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Do Elliptical Machines Offer the Same Benefits As Running?

by
author image Sari Hardyal
Based in Dayton, Ohio, Sari Hardyal has been writing fitness, sports, entertainment and health-related articles for more than five years. Hardyal holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communication from Miami University and is pursuing her master's degree in occupational therapy and her doctorate in physical therapy. She is a certified personal trainer with the National Federation of Professional Trainers.
Do Elliptical Machines Offer the Same Benefits As Running?
women on elliptical machines Photo Credit Ivonne Wierink-vanWetten/iStock/Getty Images

Aerobic activity causes your heart to beat faster, you breathe faster and more deeply, and your body releases endorphins. The American Heart Association suggests getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day five days a week to help you live a longer, healthier life. You can increase your aerobic activity by running or walking, cycling, running, participating in an aerobics class, swimming or using an elliptical trainer. Running and working out on the elliptical machine provide your body a good aerobic workout, but elliptical machines may have more benefits for people with joint pain.

Function

Elliptical machines are designed to assist you with your aerobic workout by offering adjustable inclines and resistance to meet all levels of athleticism. Treadmills also offer adjustable inclines and speeds to allow you the potential to challenge yourself in your workout. Running outdoors is a bit limiting because you don't have to keep a certain pace and you are limited to the terrain where you live. If you are in a flat area, you don't have the opportunity to run on hills or other inclines. Running and working out on an elliptical machine increase your aerobic activity, which can increase stamina and weight loss, reduce health risks and illness, strengthen your heart and improve your mood.

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Types

Running can be performed outdoors on tracks, trails or pavement. It is recommended to run on a rubber track or softer ground rather than pavement because the softer surface absorbs shock better, relieving the impact on your knees. Running can also take place on an indoor track or on a treadmill. Elliptical trainers are designed for indoor use, but come in a variety of types. Some elliptical machines offer movable hand grips that mimic cross-country skiing.

Benefits

Elliptical machines offer the same benefits as running, however ellipticals have some advantages over running. Elliptical machines offer a workout that is less stressful on your knees, hips and back than running on a treadmill. Ellipticals that have upper body handles that move allow you to exercise your arms along with your legs. These handles offer resistance, which you can't get for your upper body while running. Elliptical machines also include the option to pedal in reverse, working different muscles of the lower body.

Considerations

Purchase running shoes that fit you correctly. Wearing running shoes that do not fit properly or choosing exercise equipment that does not fit your body may result in you getting improper results, and can lead to injury. Check the stride length of the elliptical machine you are using. It is important the stride length is long enough to meet your stride and is not too short. Some elliptical machines have an adjustable stride length. The elliptical machine should also fit your body and should not impede your natural movement. Don't use an elliptical machine that allows your knees to hit the console or one where the spots for your feet are too small. If you choose an elliptical machine or running shoes that do not fit you properly, you risk not getting a proper aerobic workout. People with joint pain or arthritis should opt for using an elliptical machine for their aerobic workout because it puts less pressure on the joints than running.

Warning

Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. This is especially important if you have a chronic condition or if you are recovering from a musculoskeletal injury. Start your aerobic training slowly if you have not worked out in awhile. Aim for walking 10 minutes a day and gradually build up to 30 minutes each day. After that is comfortable, graduate to running or using the elliptical machine. Stop working out immediately if you feel dizzy or light-headed, or if you experience any sharp pains in your body. Avoid running if you find it aggravates your joints.

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