If you want to lose weight, you'll need to burn more calories than you consume, and the best way to burn calories is through an aerobic workout that increases your heart rate. Walking and running are popular cardio exercises that require no equipment at all. But if you want to move your workout indoors, you have several equipment options. Many come complete with calorie counters to give you immediate feedback on how many calories you're burning during your workout.
Treadmills allow you to take a walk or go for a jog without ever leaving your home. You don't have to worry about the weather or safety on the streets. Treadmills can be purchased for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on their construction and the features they offer. Some even fold for convenience in storing. Before buying a treadmill, give it a thorough try at the store or use a similar model at a gym. Make sure it offers all the gadgets you want and has a sturdy feel.
The Mayo Clinic says both treadmills and elliptical machines can give you a good aerobic workout, but Mayo's Dr. Edward R. Laskowski says ellipticals provide some advantages. Laskowski notes that working out on an elliptical machine is less stressful on knees, hips and backs than running on a treadmill. Most ellipticals will also let you pedal in reverse to work different muscles. Some elliptical machines help you get an upper body workout, too. These machines come equipped with poles, similar to ski poles, to give your arms a workout while you exercise your legs.
If you like to pedal but don't want to dodge traffic, consider an exercise bike. They come in two basic varieties: upright and recumbent. An upright exercise bike is more like a traditional road bike. A recumbent bike lets the rider sit back against a backrest with his legs out in front. ConsumerSearch.com says that whichever style you choose, you should look for certain standard features. Look for a bike that offers varying levels of resistance and a monitor that shows the resistance level, distance, speed, time and calories burned. It notes that a heart rate monitor is a nice option, too. You might also consider perks like a book rest and bottle holder to make the workout more pleasant.
Rowing machines help you lose weight by working large muscle groups in the upper and lower body at the same time. WeightLossForAll.com says that means a person can work out for a shorter period of time on a rowing machine than on an exercise bike and still burn the same number of calories. It also says injury risk is low because you're not putting pressure on the knees and ankles. Machines equipped with air fans can help keep you cool while you exercise.
Stair machines, climbers or steppers help to duplicate the workout you get climbing stairs at your home or office. These may not be the best choice of equipment for people with foot or knee problems because of the pressure exerted in the climbing movement. If you do decide on a stair stepper, ConsumerSearch.com says stability is the key factor in choosing a piece of equipment. You need to feel secure during the workout, and steppers with a wider, heavier base will give you the most support. Of course, these models also tend to be heavier and take up more floor space.