Well-stocked gyms will usually have a host of cardio machines, and choosing between them can seem difficult or impossible. The treadmill and bicycle are the most popular exercise machines, but others, like the elliptical, might be better at meeting the needs of those who are overweight or want to avoid joint impact. Ultimately the best cardio machine will be the one that helps you reach your fitness goals, as well as the one that you enjoy and are most likely to use on a regular basis.
The treadmill is one of the most popular workout machines and most gyms have at least one. Treadmills simulate road running in a way that helps cross-train for any sports or activities that involve walking or running. Treadmills can burn between 700 and 1,200 calories per hour, which is the highest of the cardio machines. This makes them the best option for people who like running or walking and have fat burning as a goal. Most treadmills also offer belt padding for a lower impact on the knees and ankles than road running.
Stationary bicycles simulate the act of road cycling. Because the force of pedaling is non-weight bearing, the impact on joints is low, resulting in fewer injuries. You also have the option to choose between spinning, upright and recumbent bicycles, each of which support and challenge the body in different ways. Upright cycling at a moderate intensity burns between 400 and 650 calories per hour, making it a viable fat-loss option. Cycling is the best option for people who want to exercise in fun group settings like spin classes, which most gyms will offer.
Using an elliptical can feel like a cross between walking, running and cycling, and using an elliptical can be an effective leg workout; unlike treadmills and bicycles, the elliptical allows you to work the arms and shoulders. Because of this added exercise for the upper body, a moderate-intensity workout on an elliptical burns between 600 and 900 calories per hour. This also makes them a better option for warm-ups and cool-downs before and after a full-body exercise routine. Elliptical machines are the best choice for people who want an effective low-impact, cross-training alternative to running that still burns calories.
Rowing machines are designed to simulate the act of rowing a boat through water, a motion that is like a combination of a seated leg press and a cable row. Rowing machines may be harder to find, but they are the best at working the entire body because they spreads the work between the arms, shoulders, back, core and legs more evenly than any other machine. Rowing is a full-body and non-weight-bearing exercise that is relatively easy on your joints, which makes it a great choice for warm-ups and cool-downs. Rowing can also burn a respectable 450 to 700 calories per hour.
- NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition; Jared W. Coburn and Moh H. Malek
- NutriStrategy.com: Calories Burned During Exercise, Activities, Sports and Work
- CaloriesBurnedOnElliptical.com: A Discussion about Calories Burned on Elliptical Calculator
- PubMed.gov: An Epidemiological Investigation of Training and Injury Patterns in Triathletes
- FitDay.com: How Many Calories Do You Burn During Rowing?
- PubMed.gov: Comparison of Energy Expenditure on a Treadmill vs. an Elliptical Device at a Self-Specified Exercise Intensity