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Elliptical machines: Better than treadmills?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/elliptical-machines/AN01620
- With Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.read biographyclose window
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
Dr. Edward Laskowski is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, including subspecialty certification in sports medicine, and is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. He is co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and a professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
He has been on the staff of Mayo Clinic since 1990 and specializes in sports medicine, fitness, strength training and stability training. He works with a multidisciplinary team of physical medicine, rehabilitation and orthopedic specialists, physical therapists, and sports psychologists.
Dr. Laskowski is an elite-level skier and an avid hiker, cyclist and climber. He approaches sports medicine from the perspective of a physician and an athlete.
In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Laskowski to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and he has received a Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Health and Human Services for his contribution to the Council.
Dr. Laskowski was a member of the medical staff of the Olympic Polyclinic at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and has provided medical coverage for the Chicago Marathon. He serves as a consulting physician to the National Hockey League Players' Association and is a featured lecturer at the American College of Sports Medicine's Team Physician Course.
Dr. Laskowski, a Cary, Ill., native, has contributed to Mayo Clinic's CD-ROM on sports, health and fitness, a website guide to self-care, and hundreds of Mayo Clinic articles and booklets in print and online. He is a contributing editor to the "Mayo Clinic Fitness for EveryBody" book, and he has presented lectures throughout the world on health, fitness and sports medicine topics. His teaching expertise has been recognized by his election to the Teacher of the Year Hall of Fame at Mayo Clinic.
"There are many myths and misconceptions about exercise and fitness in general, and also many traditions that don't stand up to scientific scrutiny," he says. "My goal is to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information on sports medicine and fitness topics in a way that you can practically incorporate into your life."
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Elliptical machines: Better than treadmills?
Are elliptical machines better than treadmills for basic aerobic workouts?
from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
CLICK TO ENLARGE
You can get an effective aerobic workout with both an elliptical machine and a treadmill. In general, you can let your fitness goals determine whether you choose an elliptical machine or a treadmill — or a different piece of exercise equipment.
However, elliptical machines might offer some advantages over treadmills. For example:
- Using an elliptical machine can be less stressful on your knees, hips and back than is running on a treadmill. Walking on a treadmill, however, exerts about the same force as using an elliptical machine.
- Unlike treadmills, some elliptical machines are equipped with movable upper body handles or poles, similar to ski poles. These allow you to exercise both your arms and your legs.
- Most elliptical machines can be pedaled in reverse, which allows you to work your calf and hamstring muscles a bit more than does forward motion.
Using an elliptical machine is generally considered low impact. An elliptical machine might be a good alternative to jogging, whether on a treadmill or outside. An elliptical trainer shouldn't cause knee pain if you're using it correctly. You may experience knee pain, though, if you have an underlying knee problem, such as degenerative arthritis. With certain knee injuries, using a stationary bike might be a better option than using an elliptical machine. Talk to your doctor about what exercise is right for you if you have any injuries or health concerns.
And what if you're training for a 5K run or other road race? A treadmill is probably a better tool to prepare you for running events. But even if running is your main aerobic fitness activity, cross-training with an elliptical machine or other low-impact exercise equipment can help keep you fresh and prevent overload injuries.
If you use an elliptical machine, remember to maintain good posture to help ensure the most effective workout. Keep your shoulders back, your head up and your abdominal muscles tight. Look forward, not down at your feet. And don't lean on the handles — let your lower body support your weight.Next question
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- Selecting and effectively using an elliptical trainer. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Brochures2&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=8109. Accessed May 9, 2011.
- Egana M, et al. Physiological changes following a 12 week gym based stair-climbing, elliptical trainer and treadmill running program in females. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2004;44:141.
- Mier CM, et al. Metabolic cost of stride rate, resistance, and combined use of arms and legs on the elliptical trainer. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. 2006;77:507.
- D'Lima D, et al. In vivo knee forces during recreation and exercise after knee arthroplasty. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 2008;466:2605.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 9, 2011.