Several different types of cardio machines are available, either at your gym or for home use. The cardio machine that best suits you is based on your fitness level and previous injuries. Track your heart rate to determine if you are working at an appropriate level.
The treadmill is the most popular cardio machine, because it simulates walking, jogging, running or hiking. It is great for high intensity interval training which requires you to perform a short burst of a high intensity exercise followed by a burst of moderate intensity exercise. This type of training will increase your fitness, reduce body fat and help you to lose pounds. Also, many treadmills include built-in heart rate monitors which allow you to track your heart rate during exercise. However, the treadmill can be strenuous on those with lower body injuries.
The elliptical trainer is a non-impact cardio machine, which means there is little to no impact on your bones and joints. This is ideal for those with lower body injuries, but it should not be your only source of exercise as you will lose bone mass over time. Also, the elliptical trainer allows you to train your upper and lower body at the same time with the combination of the foot pedals and handlebars. The best way to exercise on an elliptical trainer is to set the resistance high so you are forced to use your arms and legs to get a full body workout.
Stationary bikes are available in two types of models, recumbent and upright. The recumbent bike has a back rest and requires you to pedal in a reclining position. This is a beginner cardio machine, but it is also ideal for those with back or hip injuries. Intensity can be increased on this machine by raising the resistance of the recumbent bike. The upright bike is similar to a mountain bike and requires you to use core muscles to sit upright as you bike. This bike can deliver a high-intensity workout by lifting your hips off the bike as you pedal and increasing resistance.
Stepmills or stairmills simulate stair climbing with a rotating set of stairs with adjustable speeds. The faster the stairs rotate, the higher the intensity. Also, avoid holding on to the railing for constant bodyweight resistance. Be wary of the stepmill, as it may aggravate knee, ankle or hip injuries over time since it requires constant lower body movement.