An elliptical is a type of exercise equipment that provides a whole-body cardio workout.
The elliptical has been around for more than 30 years and continues to attract people drawn to the comprehensive nature of the workout they get from the machine.
That full body, cardiovascular workout produces a multitude of health benefits both short and long term that we will get into below.
19 Benefits Of An Elliptical Machine
The elliptical provides a complete workout and can be used by anyone in reasonably good shape regardless of their age. Below are the most important benefits produced by using an elliptical machine.
1: An elliptical is an excellent choice for older adults.
Older individuals, especially those with bad knees or other mobility issues, often have a difficult time finding modes of exercise that work for them. Because ellipticals don’t require you to leave your feet, they don’t punish your ankles, knees, and hips the way running does. As such, they’re a great way for older folks to get the exercise they need.
2: An elliptical is a good way to lose weight.
If you’ve had your share of fad diets that led nowhere and don’t have the time or ability to run 5 miles a day, consider an elliptical machine. Half an hour on one of these can burn off as many as 400 calories. That compares favorably to the 100 calories you burn for every mile you run (1). So by putting in 30 – 40 minutes on the elliptical, you’ll burn about the same number of calories as you would on a 4 or 5-mile run.
3: An elliptical can help fight stress and anxiety.
There is a well-known connection between serotonin (2) and stress (3). In a nutshell, serotonin makes you feel better. But stress and anxiety suppress serotonin levels in the brain. That can lead to feelings of lethargy and even depression. An elliptical gets blood and oxygen flowing to your brain and releases serotonin, thereby fighting off the blues.
4: An elliptical doesn’t require you to be in shape.
Have you ever tried to get a really good workout on a rowing machine? Ever wandered into the weight room at the gym in search of better health? Both can be intimidating. Especially if you’re out of shape and everyone at the health club is watching. An elliptical machine lets you ramp up your exercise routine at your own pace in the privacy of your own home.
5: An elliptical helps reinforce your skeletal structure.
This is something of particular interest to older folks. Each year tens of thousands of older Americans fall and break bones. The low-impact exercise you get from an elliptical will help strengthen your bones and connective tissue by keeping you upright and engaging all the muscles in your legs (4). As a result, you’ll stand a reduced chance of experiencing a nasty fall.
6: An elliptical lets you stay in shape even when you’re stuck at home.
The winters are hard on people’s bodies. No one wants to go outside for a nice long walk if the temperature is below freezing and the sidewalks are covered with ice. In fact, for older folks those icy sidewalks can be downright dangerous (5). An elliptical allows you to get the exercise you need without having to venture out. When the snow melts, you’ll emerge fit and ready to go.
7: An elliptical improves blood circulation.
Anything that engages the muscles over time produces increased blood circulation. Increased circulation delivers blood to every part of your body, increases oxygen flow to the brain, enhances your immune system, and reduces the odds you’ll get sick. Regular exercise is also a good way to ensure better quality sleep (6).
8: An elliptical is convenient.
Even if you have a health club membership, you know it’s not always easy to find the time to get a workout in. There’s all the time going and to and from the club, parking, getting ready in the locker room, and more. Having an elliptical in your home means that even if you weren’t able to get to the gym today, you could still get in a good workout before dinner.
9: An elliptical is great if you have arthritis.
If you suffer from arthritis of the leg joints an elliptical can help (7). This low impact form of exercise doesn’t shock your knees and hips the way running, and even vigorous walking, can. An elliptical is a great way to get in the cardio exercise you need while at the same time strengthening arthritic joints and keeping them loose.
10: Ellipticals are low maintenance machines.
Treadmills have dozens of moving parts, any one of which could fail at any time. Ellipticals, by contrast, have only a few. And the mechanisms involved are nowhere near as complex as you’ll encounter with a treadmill. Ellipticals need very little maintenance, and if anything happens, they’re covered by warranty.
11: An elliptical enables you to increase physical endurance.
This is especially important for those over 50. As people age, their natural endurance begins to wane. Toss in the fact that, as they age, most folks become increasingly sedentary, and you have a recipe for trouble. An elliptical will help you rebuild and maintain physical endurance, which will pay handsome dividends in every part of your life.
12: An elliptical is good for building strong legs.
Falls are a major health concern for older folks (8). One of the primary reasons many seniors fall and injure themselves is a lack of leg strength. This comes from sitting for hours day after day, year after year. An elliptical can help reverse this trend and restore strength and vitality to the muscles of the lower body, thereby warding off debilitating falls.
13: An elliptical provides a good all-around workout.
It’s well known that ellipticals can help build and maintain lower body strength. But there are numerous ellipticals that get the upper body involved in the exercise routine too. This enables the type of full-body exercise you normally only get in a CrossFit box or while skiing.
14: An elliptical is good for your heart.
A healthy heart means a much greater chance of having a longer life. That’s because a healthy heart is typically one that doesn’t have to work as hard as a weak heart (9). In other words, it’s more efficient. How does a heart become more efficient? Through exercise. An elliptical can provide the exercise you need to strengthen your heart and prolong your life.
15: An elliptical is good for burning off belly fat.
Belly fat may seem pretty harmless but it’s actually hazardous to your health (10). This type of fat, called ‘visceral’ fat, can lead to all manner of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. An elliptical is a great way to burn off belly fat and pave the way to a healthier future.
16: Ellipticals may help reduce high blood pressure.
As we mentioned earlier, exercise releases serotonin. Serotonin is a product of the amino acid L- tryptophan. Studies indicate that L- tryptophan can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure levels (11). The more you exercise, the more L-tryptophan you produce and, by extension, the more serotonin. The end result is lower blood pressure from the tryptophan and less anxiety from the serotonin.
17: An elliptical can improve your aerobic performance.
In a broad sense a person’s aerobic capacity is the amount of oxygen their body is able to process (12). By increasing your aerobic capacity, you increase your stamina, improve the efficiency of your heart, and reap numerous cognitive benefits as well.
18: An elliptical lets you mix things up.
Most of the high-end ellipticals come with a variety of presets that you can easily access to mix up your workouts. This allows you to avoid becoming bored. Not only that, but it allows you to ‘shock’ your muscles and achieve higher levels of fitness. Bodybuilders were among the first to realize the value of switching things up. Now it’s common wisdom and promoted everywhere (13).
19: An elliptical can help improve your balance.
We mentioned earlier that ellipticals can help strengthen leg muscles and prevent falls in older individuals. But this kind of exercise also improves balance. And balance is just as important as strength when it comes to preventing falls. The elliptical forces you to make coordinated movements of the arms and legs. This, in turn, helps you improve overall balance.
An elliptical machine produces the kind of total body workout that pays handsome dividends for your overall health. While ellipticals aren’t cheap the quality of life benefits they produce are more than worth the investment.