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#1 Posted : 28 March 2017 08:01:35(UTC)

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Joined: 17/02/2017(UTC)
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United Kingdom
Location: Henley-on-Thames

It burns as many calories but it’s low impact.

Running on the treadmill feels harder than other cardio machines, it must burn more calories, however cross-trainers are the steady achievers of the cardiovascular exercise machine world. One study at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse pitched other cardio machines against elliptical training, comparing exercising on the elliptical machine to working out on a treadmill, stepper and stationary bike.

For the study, 16 volunteers between 27 and 54 worked out for 20 minutes at an intensity they chose and researchers measured their oxygen consumption (calories burned), heart rate and levels of perceived exertion. It found that not only were heart rate and oxygen consumption values virtually identical for running on the treadmill as for the elliptical trainer but the impact on the body for the elliptical was more like walking and it also felt easier to bare.

However you do it, running is a high impact activity and so it can cause problems for joints because the body becomes airborne and has to land with an impact that up to 24 times your own body weight which has to be absorbed by your joints. Ouch. The force is initially picked up by the foot but then it’s transferred to the ankle, knee, hip or back. No wonder running injuries are ubiquitous. For anyone with knee or ankle issues using the elliptical trainer that means you do not have to lessen calorie burn due to injuries.

The elliptical trainer kind of looks easy but a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness investigated improvements to metabolism and cardiovascular fitness in a 12 week period, comparing elliptical trainers to treadmills and stair-climbers. 22 moderately active runners were assigned to run on a treadmill, use the elliptical or climb the stepper for 40 minutes, three times a week. After 12 weeks researchers measured their metabolism and cardiovascular fitness and the benefits were virtually the same from all three machines.

High Intensity Interval Training of HIIT on the elliptical is a great workaround for all. Choose a stride length and speed that really, really challenges you and do it for 45 seconds, then slow right down to a cushy speed for 75 seconds and repeat that continuously for 20-25 minutes. Studies show that HIIT training is as effective and in some cases even more effective for fat burning than long periods of slow, sustained exercise.

One study conducted in 2012, published in the Journal of Clinical Biomechanics, compared the muscles used in walking to those used during a cross trainer workout. The walking produced plenty of what experts call ‘frontal motion’; that is arms side to side, feet moving forward and back etc. The cross trainer exercise also worked the lower back or lumber spine more with twisting and rotating motions. This helps strengthen the essential muscles around the core area that need to be strong helping avoid back pain. The same study also found activation of the gluteal muscles were consistently higher on the elliptical trainer than they were in the walkers and so, yes, it does shrink your bum!

Elliptical trainers feel like they’re easier, even though they are not, (studies show people feel they are struggling less when they are on cross-trainers!) which is good news when you’re worn-out but still want to squeeze in a workout which will energise you anyway. One study published in 2011 tested the effects of elliptical exercise in the fatigue levels of people with Multiple Sclerosis. Patients completed 15 elliptical training sessions lasting 30 minutes each and then filled in a questionnaire about their energy levels. Their fatigue improved dramatically after the cross-trainer workouts and while this study was in MS patients there’s no reason the same effects won’t be seen on those of us without it. Indeed, any exercise that leaves you energised and not worn-out is great news.
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