Fitness machines such as treadmills, stair-climbers, stationary bikes and cross-country skiing machines are popular ways to work out. They all offer aerobic exercise, and some can also strengthen your muscles. Additionally, many machines will tell you your heart rate, calories burned or miles covered and let you control the intensity of your activity. These indoor fitness machines are especially good for exercising when the weather is bad or the days are short.
If you’re looking for ways to increase your exercise, having a fitness machine right in your home could be a convenient option. To help you be informed before making a big purchase, we’re breaking down popular types of fitness machines and sharing a few considerations to think through before you buy.
Popular Types of Fitness Machines
Treadmills. Treadmills let you walk or jog while seeing your time, distance and speed. Many have adjustable inclines to provide a greater challenge if desired. The treadmill should have handrails (located in front) to help you 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 use the handrails only when you need them.
Stationary bicycles. These work much like regular bikes except they don’t move. Many also come equipped with computers to track your workouts or even programs to simulate real bicycle courses. While nice, these extras aren’t a necessity. It’s more important to select a bike with a good overall design. Look for a bike that pedals smoothly and has a comfortable seat. Make sure the seat height can be adjusted, as a seat that’s too high or low could cause knee or hip pain. Ideally, you want to have a slight bend in the knee at the bottom of your pedal stroke.
Cross-country ski machines. These machines are very good for burning calories and can help you build both upper- and lower-body muscles. They are also low impact, putting little stress on your joints. As they mimic cross-country skiing, using one does require coordination. Additionally, they may tire you sooner than other machines because they use muscles in both the upper and lower body. If you are new to these machines, start slowly (5 to 10 minutes a session). Bit by bit, do more as you are able.
Stair-climbers (stepping machines). Stair-climbers target your lower body muscles. They create the feeling of climbing a continuous flight of stairs. While they don’t require any special coordination, beginners should start slowly. Bit by bit, you can increase intensity and length of time on these machines. Keep good posture and avoid leaning on the handrails.
Elliptical cross-trainers. These machines combine elements of treadmills, stair-climbers, cycles, and cross-country ski machines. Some elliptical machines have 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.
Considerations when buying a fitness machine
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 won't make you like an activity that you dislike in the first place.
- If you buy through an advertisement or online, check the dates for return. Make sure you can return it if you don't like it.
- Test a machine in the store or a gym before you decide 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.
- Talk to an expert. Get the opinion of a trainer, Sports Medicine professional or experienced person at a health club, YMCA or other fitness setting about the equipment you are interested in. Always get clearance from your primary care provider before beginning a new exercise regimen.
- Think about whether you really need a fitness machine. Many products promise to help tone and develop muscles in the belly, thighs or buttocks. But you can strengthen and tone these muscles without special devices. And most devices don't make it easier or safer than doing exercises on your own.
Read the article on affordable alternatives to gym memberships.
A partnership for better health
Purchasing the medical and wellness products you need to enhance your health journey is now easier than ever. Parkview and Best Buy have teamed up to provide you with a specially curated selection of products that are recommended by the Parkview healthcare providers you trust. It’s a partnership built on helping you simply and conveniently achieve your health goals. To view the selection, visit BestBuy.com/Parkview.
Note: This website is regularly updated as new products become available. Prices will also be updated to reflect any sales or special offers from Best Buy.
Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.