Cardiovascular activities such as jogging or using an elliptical machine offer a variety of health benefits. Which activity is most beneficial for you depends on a few factors, including your fitness goals and any injuries or physical conditions you have. Your doctor can also help you decide on a proper fitness regimen. Whether it's jogging, the elliptical or another cardiovascular activity, medical experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week for good health.
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If you're aiming to burn fat with cardiovascular exercise, choose the activity that is most effective at burning calories. How many calories you ultimately burn in 30 minutes of jogging or using the elliptical depends on the intensity of your session and your body weight. Typically, using an elliptical machine burns more calories than jogging, the HealthStatus website calculates. A 150-lb. person will burn about 238 calories jogging for 30 minutes, but 387 calories during a basic 30-minute elliptical workout. You would need to run at a speed of 7 miles per hour or faster to burn more calories than you would with a basic elliptical workout, during which you work your arms vigorously to pull the attached levers.
The leg movements involved in running and using an elliptical are similar. However, when you're jogging, every time you land from a step, your ankle, knee and hip joints absorb stress from the impact. Because your feet remain on the pedals on the elliptical, there is no such impact and thus no stress to your joints. Those who have previous ankle, knee or hip injuries may therefore prefer to use the elliptical machine.
The lack of impact while working on an elliptical means it is not an effective activity for improving bone density. When your bones and the tendons that pull on our bones undergo stress, the tissue adapts and increases their density and strength. This, the American Council on Exercise explains, makes jogging effective at developing bone density. As you land while jogging, your feet, leg and hip bones are subject to impact and thus can be stimulated to increase density. This is of particular interest to middle-aged women, who, because of hormonal changes, naturally begin to see decreases in bone density and are at an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Both jogging and using the elliptical are effective at developing your cardiovascular health as long as you train within an appropriate heart-rate range. Your heart rate should be at 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate while you exercise. To determine this range, subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate in beats per minute, then multiply this value by 0.50 and 0.85 to find your target range. Increase or decrease your speed or resistance level while on the elliptical to keep your heart rate in the appropriate range. When jogging, add sprint intervals, inclines or hills to work your heart in its optimum range.