Cardio Workout Machines 101

On your mark, get set, go! Learn the ins and outs of the cardio machines at your gym

Running or walking on a treadmill is considered the best indoor choice for a workout

Are you a gym rookie? This guide to cardio machines will help you strenghten your lungs and tone up your tush

Are you new to the gym? Check out these five great cardiovascular (heart/lung) workout machines, all of which deliver an excellent cardio workout while engaging different muscles.

To strengthen your heart and lungs you need to get your heart rate up. These machines provide easy, year-round access to a great workout. Try them all to find the ones that work for you. Do see your doctor before embarking on any new fitness program.

  • Treadmill: Running or walking on a treadmill strengthens the heart and leg muscles, and helps burn fat. It’s also considered the best indoor choice for calorie-burning and cardiovascular fitness. Walking and running on a treadmill are natural movement patterns, so exercisers tend to work longer on a treadmill than on other exercise machines.
  • Stair Climber: Stair-climbing machines work the legs, strengthen the heart and promote fat-burning. Machines with arm involvement will also work the upper-body muscles, and offer a greater challenge to those who are more fit. Caution: Poor exercise technique can be hard on the knees and lower back, and stair-climbing also creates a rapid rise in heart rate. Those with heart problems or the very unfit should be very careful.
  • Elliptical Trainer: In addition to delivering cardiovascular benefits, using an elliptical trainer, which involves both the legs and arms, helps strengthen and tone muscles in the arms, back and abdomen. It’s also a low-impact activity, making it ideal for older individuals or for those with lower-body injuries.
  • Stationary Bike: Stationary cycling (upright and recumbent models) strengthens the heart and legs and also burns fat. Short bursts on a high tension can further improve strength and build leg muscles. Recumbent cycling (in a semi-reclining position) uses more of the buttocks and hamstrings than upright cycling.
  • Rowing Machine: Rowing machines offer a low-impact, fat-burning and muscle-building workout for most muscles of the body. The smooth motions are easy on the joints, making it a suitable activity for those recuperating from a lower-body injury. Full movement on a rowing machine involves the hips, buttocks, legs, shoulders, biceps, upper and lower back, and the abdominals. 

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.