The demand for low impact exercise equipment has never been greater now that so many people are facing debilitating injuries and weight problems due to busy schedules, improper diets, and a general aversion to any movement that resembles “exercise.”
Any high impact exercise would fall into a category in which your feet leave the ground at the same time, with running being the prime example. High impact is also known as “weight-bearing” exercise: any activity that works bones and muscles against gravity including walking, running, tennis, etc.
The constant pounding on the joints of the body during weight bearing exercise does help to build and maintain healthy bones, but when the individual is overweight, it can put the body at risk for injury.
The best low impact exercise equipment includes elliptical trainers, exercise bikes, rowers, and stair steppers. The advantage of using these types of cardio machines is to gain the advantages of aerobic exercise without putting undue stress on the joints. Here is a brief look at each one:
The elliptical machine is also known as a cross trainer since it offers a variety of motions used in running, stair climbing, and cross-country skiing. Machines made today include moving handlebars to exercise the upper body. Because of the versatility this category of machine can offer, ellipticals include a wide range of styles that include inclines, variable resistances, adjustable stride lengths, and more. A key advantage to the elliptical is that your feet never leave the pedals, yet you can get an intense cardio workout which is why it is considered low impact.
The stationary bike is the oldest of the exercise machines. The variety of bikes includes uprights, recumbents, and spin cycles. You can alter resistance or pedaling speed to push your workout from easy to intense. Again, your feet never leave the pedals, which makes this type of trainer ideal for low impact exercise equipment. Like the elliptical, it is still considered weight bearing since many users like to pedal a bike while standing.
The rowing machine is not as popular as the first two types of machines and that’s too bad. A rower, which is designed to simulate the feel of an oar moving against resistance of water, is the best of the machines to give you an upper body workout in your abs, arms, chest, shoulders, and back. Since your feet provide a stationary anchor, the mechanics of sliding on the moving seat while you row also works the leg muscles.
A stair stepper machine simulates the action of climbing stairs, whether the machine consists of just pedals that pump up and down, or has actually stairs that revolve around a flywheel and move down as the user “walks up” the stairs. Though it has a higher impact on joints, the stair stepper offers a great cardio workout and is works well for people who love the burn feel of working the legs and glutes hard.
Though the popular machines mentioned above are not completely impact-free, they are all generally categorized as low impact exercise equipment. They work to strengthen the stabilizer and skeletal muscles, give you a tremendous cardiovascular workout, and improve overall conditioning and balance. If you need to do weight bearing but low-impact exercise, these machines are a good choice for you.
UPDATE: Summer Elliptical Sales are on!
Here is your chance to rant or rave about the elliptical you use at home or at the fitness center.