Ellipticals reduce the impact on your feet and joints.
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While exercises like running and biking can be great exercises to burn calories and get in shape, they can cause pain and discomfort in the joints and feet. For example, running means your feet are constantly coming off the ground then hitting the ground with a good deal of your weight on top over and over. Low- or no-impact exercises using specially designed machines allow you to work out while reducing any pain or discomfort in joints and your feet.
Consider the Elliptical
Elliptical trainers provide upper and lower body workouts without the impact associated with running on a treadmill or outside. Instead of lifting your feet off the ground to run or walk, you work the pedals forward or backward on large foot pads while standing up. At the same time you can also use hand bars to assist the exercise and work your upper body. When in motion on an elliptical, there is zero impact on your feet, though the movement closely simulates running.
See the Stationary Advantages
The advantage of a stationary exercise bike is that you can adjust the resistance and difficulty as you please, whereas biking outdoors puts you at the mercy of whatever terrain you bike on, bumps, hills and all. Many exercise bikes have straps on the pedals to reduce the chance of your foot flying off the pedals. Another type of stationary cycle is the recumbent bike. This machines allows you to sit with your legs parallel to the ground, so your feet are in front of you instead of below you when pedaling. Note, however, that the leg position may diminish blood flow to your feet, causing possible numbness and tingling.
Row, Row, Row
Rowing machines work primarily the upper body while in a seated position. They are designed to mimic rowing in a boat and do not cause any impact or strain on the feet. If you try a rowing machine and feel tension in your feet, you may be too close or too far away from the foot stop on the machine. Simply adjust the the seat to correct this problem.
Challenge Your Muscles
While low-impact machines can reduce strain on the joints and feet, the tradeoff is that they typically don't burn as many calories or challenge as many muscles as other machines. Boost calorie burn and muscle exertion on low-impact machines by increasing the resistance on the elliptical and exercise bike, or increasing the weight on the rowing machine.