Many people choose to exercise with fitness machines such
as treadmills, stair-climbers, stationary bicycles, and cross-country skiing
machines. These all offer aerobic conditioning and may also strengthen
Fitness machines can be great for exercising when the
weather is bad or days are short. You may also like the fact that these
machines let you control the intensity of your activity and may give you
information about your heart rate, calories burned, or miles covered. Fitness
machines are safe and handy, but they can be boring. Listening to music,
watching TV, or exercising with a friend may make it more fun.
Treadmills offer the
simplicity of walking or jogging along with precise information about your
activity, such as time, distance, and speed. Many have adjustable inclines to
provide a greater challenge when you want one. Handrails (located in front)
should be provided to allow you to keep your balance or to steady yourself
now and then, but you should not hold onto them during exercise. It's better to
swing your arms as you walk or jog and to only use the handrails if you need to
steady yourself or keep from falling.
Stationary bicycles work much like regular bicycles. Many come with computers that
calculate your workout or programs to simulate real bicycle courses. These
extras aren't necessary and aren't as important as having a bike with a good
overall design that pedals smoothly, has a comfortable seat, and can be
adjusted to the proper height. If your seat is too high or low, you can have
knee or hip pain. Try to have a slight bend in the knee at the bottom of your
Cross-country ski machines are
very good for burning calories and developing both upper- and lower-body muscles
with little stress on your joints (low impact). But they require coordination
and they may tire you sooner than other machines, because they use muscles in
both the upper and lower body. If you are new to this activity, start slowly (5
to 10 minutes a session) and gradually do more as you are able. Look for models
with pulley systems for the arms (rather than poles that you pull) and
Stair-climbers (stepping machines) are similar to ski machines, but they work only the lower-body
muscles. They are simpler to use than ski machines, requiring no special
coordination. Beginners should start slowly and gradually increase intensity
and length of time on these machines. Keep good posture and avoid leaning
combine elements of treadmills, stair-climbers, cycles, and cross-country ski
machines. Some machines include arm resistance to work both the upper and lower
body. Like ski machines, they require some coordination and may tire you faster
than other machines, but they give a very thorough aerobic workout along with
some resistance training.
Advertising for fitness products often promises large gains with
little effort. This is a promise that sounds good but is rarely true. Before you buy, think about these tips:
Be sure you already like the activity. A machine or device probably will not make you like
an activity you dislike in the first place.
Avoid products that are
available only through a television offer. You won't be able to "try before you
Test a machine in the store before deciding to buy it. Make
sure it feels right to you. Sometimes the more expensive machines work more
smoothly and make exercise more comfortable and fun.
opinion of a trainer or experienced person at a health club, YMCA, or other
fitness setting about the equipment you are interested in.
products promise to help tone and develop abdominal, thigh, or buttock muscles.
These muscles can be strengthened and toned without special devices, and most
devices don't make it easier or safer than doing exercises on your own.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.