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What's the Best Cardio Machine?

Beth Bradford

Aug 15, 2023

Cardio is important, but so are your fitness goals.

Perhaps you enjoy doing exercise and look forward to breaking a sweat. Or perhaps you detest cardio because it is so dull. You have a lot of options today, from the ski machine to the treadmill. The VersaClimber can give you the impression that you are climbing El Capitan, while the elliptical machine can be gentle on your joints. Love cycling? You can choose the AirDyne cycles, which work your arms and legs, or you can choose a recumbent bike and read while riding it. Not to mention the fantastic spin bikes, which allow you to blast out to your favorite tunes while developing lean legs. If you're over 50 and have joint pain, a Cybex arc trainer can lower cholesterol without hurting your joints.

Any fitness objective can be achieved with the correct cardio equipment. Some people are looking to heal after an injury, while others might be aiming to improve on their previous race performance. The best cardio equipment is divided into two categories: those that burn calories and those that work the entire body.

The optimum calorie burners

The treadmill is a terrific alternative if you're confined inside while preparing for your next half marathon. It's also a perfect workout if you’re time-crunched. A study in the International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology contrasted the energy demands of the treadmill, step mill, rower, upright stationary cycle, elliptical trainer, and five other cardio machines.

Sixteen participants between the ages of 18 and 25 tested each of the 10 cardio machines. While the volunteers exercised at various intensities, the researchers recorded their heart rates and energy consumption. The treadmill and stair stepper both outperformed the others in terms of heart rate and quantity of energy needed at the various levels of effort. Significantly fewer calories were used per minute on the upright stationary bikes, elliptical trainer, and AirDyne cycle.

You can burn 378 calories on a treadmill and 354 calories on a stair stepper at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes. Instead of using a step machine, where your foot remains on the stepping pedals, this study employed a revolving staircase called a step mill, which requires you to take up your feet after each step.

The ideal for exercising your entire body

Many exercise machines, including the stair stepper and treadmill, focus on the lower body, but the rowing machine is unmatched for a full-body workout. The rower uses your lower body's quadriceps, calves, and glutes as well as your upper body's pecs, arms, and abs. Additionally, because your joints aren't under stress, you can increase your cardiovascular endurance while you give your body the day off from your other exercises. To ensure that you are getting the most out of your rowing machine workout, use the proper technique by contracting your core throughout each row and pushing off with your legs first.

The rowing machine will still allow you to burn off a lot of calories. Harvard Medical School estimates that 30 minutes of intense rowing at a weight of 155 pounds will result in a calorie burn of 369. The best cardio equipment, though, is the one you'll use.

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