Can an Elliptical Help You Lose Weight?

An elliptical combines the motion of stair climbing with that of cross-country skiing. If you suffer from lower extremity pain, arthritis or back pain, you may find an elliptical workout more enjoyable and less painful than other forms of exercise. Elliptical workouts can help you lose weight regardless of your fitness level, especially if used in combination with strength training and dietary changes. Consult your physician prior to starting a new exercise or diet plan.

Regular elliptical workouts may allow for gradual weight loss.

Weight Loss Success

Weight loss entails consuming fewer calories than your body burns each day. Create a 3,500 calorie deficit for every pound of weight you desire to lose by reducing the number of calories you eat or by increasing the number of calories your body uses. Elliptical trainers provide one form of exercise that causes your body to burn more calories as it fuels the muscles. Strength training not only causes your body to burn more calories to fuel the muscles, it also builds lean muscle tissue, which increases your body's use of calories at rest. A quality weight loss program combining elliptical exercise, strength training and calorie restriction allows you to lose 1 to 2 lbs. a week and inspires a new, healthier lifestyle.

Calories Burned

The number of calories you burn during an elliptical workout varies based on how hard you exercise, your weight and ability to use your arms throughout the workout. A typical 30 minute elliptical workout burns 270 calories for a person weighing 125 lbs., 335 calories for a person weighing 155 lbs. and 400 calories for someone weighing 185 lbs., according to a report in the July 2004 issue of the "Harvard Heart Letter." A daily 30 minute workout on an elliptical would allow you to lose around 1 or 2 lbs. every week. Increase your rate of weight loss by performing a longer elliptical workout or adjusting your weight loss program to include strength training and dietary changes.

Elliptical Purchase

If you choose to purchase an elliptical trainer for your workouts, test it to ensure it meets your needs. Make certain you can move your legs through a full range of motion and that the foot pedals fit your feet. Extras such as magazine racks, council fans, televisions, cup holders and MP3 docs do not effect your ability to workout -- but these features can increase your enjoyment, which improves your chances of exercising on a regular basis. Consider cost, size and noise level of the machine prior to committing to your purchase.


Your ability to lose weight with an elliptical trainer requires motivation and effective pacing. If you have never used an elliptical trainer or do not exercise regularly, start out with a light to moderate workout lasting 15 to 20 minutes. As you increase your fitness level or become accustomed to using an elliptical trainer, increase your intensity and duration. Use your treadmill to help keep you motivated toward weight loss by using heart rate monitors, calorie counters or distance trackers to develop and monitor your workout goals.

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