Cardio Machines Top-Sellers
Exercise machines for reaching your fitness goals
Exercise machines provide a low-impact cardio workout in the convenience of your home. Some work your whole body, while others focus on only your lower or upper body. These machines can improve cardiovascular health and can also help you strengthen and tone your muscles. Here are some tips for choosing the exercise machine that's right for your fitness goals, exercise preferences and budget.
Treadmills offer an efficient way to get a cardio workout if you enjoy walking or running. They're appropriate for beginners who want to burn fat or improve heart and lung health, intermediates who are looking for a good cardio workout at home and advanced athletes in search of sprint training. Along with your budget, factors to consider when choosing your treadmill include:
- Motor horsepower: It's measured in CHP (continuous-duty horsepower) and should be at least 1.5 CHP but 2.5 to 3.0 CHP if you plan to run.
- Belt size: Belts are most effective when they're at least 18 inches wide and 48 inches long. Choose at least a 52-inch belt for walking or a 54-inch belt for running if you're over 6 feet tall.
- Speed: Runners should choose a treadmill that goes at least 10 mph.
- Incline: This option creates the effect of walking or running up hills for more resistance.
- Weight capacity: Treadmills with higher weight capacities are often more durable.
- Size: If your space is small, choose a compact treadmill or opt for a folding one.
- Programming: Helpful options include walking programs, heart rate monitors, compatibility with your smartphone and screens that are LCD, LED or touchscreen for easy access.
Elliptical trainers give you both an upper and lower body workout that not only tones muscles but also burns more calories because you're using more muscle groups. They're also easier on your joints because you're using a gliding motion instead of the impact involved in running or walking. Look for one with articulated foot pedals for even less joint strain. Consider these factors when choosing your elliptical machine:
- Size: Factor in at least 20 inches of free space on both sides of your elliptical and in the front or back for freedom of movement and safety.
- Front- or rear-drive: Front-drive ellipticals give you the sensation you're walking or jogging, while rear-drives feel like you're climbing stairs and make you lean forward more. Both give a good full-body workout, so it depends on your preference.
- Programming: Like treadmills, some ellipticals have built-in workout programs for variety. You can adjust for resistance and incline.
- Resistance levels: A machine with at least 16 resistance levels can grow with you as your fitness level increases.
- Stride length: The taller you are, the more important a longer stride length is. For everyone though, the longer the better, especially if you'll be sharing your elliptical with others.
Exercise bikes target strengthening the muscles in your lower body while providing you with a low-impact cardio workout. They generally take up less space than other exercise equipment and are light enough to move around easily. Many offer programmed workouts while others are simple and therefore more economical. You have a choice of these main types of exercise bikes when selecting the one that's right for your fitness goals, available space, comfort level and budget:
- Indoor cycling bikes look a lot like a regular bicycle except their handlebars are much farther away from the seat. This causes you to lean forward when riding and can allow you to stand up as well. For this reason, indoor cyclers generally help you burn more calories but often don't have built-in features like heart monitors.
- Upright exercise bicycles have pedals aligned right below your body, which gives you more of an ab workout. The design also allows for movable handlebars on some models, which gives you an upper-body workout too.
- Recumbent exercise bicycles have a seat that lets you recline. They tend to be more comfortable and put less stress on your joints but give you the least-intense workout. They're a good choice for people with knee or back issues.
- Mini trainers are exercise bikes without the seat or handlebars — just the pedals. Because of this, they're compact, portable and generally less expensive. You can pedal while sitting at your desk, watching television from the couch or anywhere comfortable to you. You can also use a mini trainer for an upper body workout by turning the pedals with your hands.
Steppers give a lower body workout. They're usually very simple — two steps that provide resistance so you can strengthen your leg and gluteus muscles while getting a cardio workout similar to climbing stairs. For more stability, choose a stepper with handles. Steppers that have resistance band attachments provide you with an upper body workout too, as do steppers with attached climbers.
Rowing machines strengthen muscles in your arms, legs and core while giving you a low-impact cardio workout. You can change the intensity of your workout and focus on certain muscle groups by making changes such as flipping your hands palms up or palms down, pulling toward your abs or chest and changing the speed of your rows. Along with strengthening your abs, rowing machines also improve back strength. Here are the four types of rowers to choose from:
- Hydraulic or stationary rowers save space and are usually less expensive but don't allow you to synchronize your leg and arm movements in a natural rowing motion.
- Air rowing machines feel like outdoor rowing and get their resistance from your pulling motion.
- Magnetic rowers also provide a smooth rowing motion and are nearly silent.
- Water rowing machines most closely simulate real outdoor rowing, including the swishing of water as you row back and forth. They're quiet and provide full range of motion.