Choose an elliptical with an upper-body component to burn more calories.
To keep fit and healthy, adults should strive for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day as often as possible, according to the American Heart Association. Although aerobic workouts are low-intensity, they can be impactful on your joints, especially when it comes to running on hard surfaces or up mountain trails. Cardio equipment such as stationary bikes, ellipticals and rowing machines can give you the same results as traditional cardio with less impact on your joints.
The stationary bike is an excellent alternative to traditional bikes and outdoor aerobic workouts because you can set your own resistance level and control environmental conditions. Additionally, cycling puts less stress on your ankles, knees and hips than jogging and can burn just as many calories. To optimize your workout and ensure that you don't hurt your knees, play with the seat height and handle bar position until you find the best combination that works for you.
An elliptical may be the single best piece of exercise equipment for you to choose if you're trying to lessen the impact on your joints without changing up your walking or running workout too much. Ellipticals simulate the same body mechanics as treadmills, but do so while bringing your joints through a smooth path with no need for shock absorption. Additionally, you can get an added calorie-burn effect by selecting an elliptical with an upper-body component, working your arms on the levers up high as your legs do the work down low. You can adjust the tension of the machine to increase the resistance of both the pedals and the levers for your arms. Although you will burn more calories with added resistance, you may fatigue sooner, cutting your total workout time down.
Rowing machines allow you to get a deep muscular workout on your upper body and back while improving aerobic fitness, burning calories and keeping you off your feet. Rowers may be ideal for you if you have any chronic injuries affecting your lower body. The only real drawback from a rowing machine is that it might feel a little awkward if you've never used one.
The Traditional Treadmill
If you're looking to reduce impact on your joints, the treadmill probably shouldn't be your first stop on the exercise machine circuit. Still, depending on the severity of any chronic injuries you've built up, you can still get in a solid cardio workout on the traditional treadmill without hurting yourself. You may have no control over your environment when walking or running outdoors, but you can control everything from speed to incline on a treadmill.