When you're looking for an effective cardiovascular workout, the array of machines at the gym can quickly become overwhelming. It can be hard to decide which machine will give you the best outcome and help you get to your goals. Do you go for the treadmill, the elliptical, or just head outside for a walk? And which will be the most efficient workout? Between regular walking, outside or on a treadmill, and the elliptical trainer, there are a few differences to consider that can easily help you make up your mind and get you started on the fast track to getting healthy.
The elliptical trainer is a machine that stimulates jogging without the same perceived intensity. You work harder, but without the strain or struggle you might experience while jogging. This means you burn more calories than walking alone in a less intense workout, so you can workout longer and more efficiently. The elliptical is also easier on your joints. Your feet never leave the foot pedals, so there is no jarring of your knee and hip joints, which can often prevent you from working out. Some elliptical machines also have arm handles that move back and forth as you step up and down. When you hold onto these arm handles, you are not only toning and sculpting your arm muscles, you are also getting your heart rate up and adding to your calorie burn.
Whether you're walking on or off the treadmill, walking also has great health benefits. Walking helps you to get your heart rate up, burn calories and sculpt your legs. When you're walking on the treadmill or in a hilly area, the changes in incline will help you to vary your intensity levels and keep your heart rate up. It will also allow you to sculpt more muscles and tighten your thighs and bottom as you walk. Unlike the elliptical, walking has weight bearing properties, which means it helps to support your bones and build muscle and prevent injury as you age. Much like the elliptical, walking is easy on your knees because you are only lifting your foot off the ground slightly, without jarring the knees when you place it back down.
The Verdict: Elliptical vs. Walking
Working out on the elliptical or taking a vigorous stroll will both give you huge a benefit toward your fitness goals and overall health. Both walking and the elliptical are easy on your joints and will get your heart rate up for a cardiovascular workout. If you're looking to burn more calories and tone up your arms, the elliptical is your best bet. If you're looking to change your incline and tone your lower body and build bone strength, walking will help you achieve these goals. The elliptical will give you a high-intensity experience that burns more calories, without the strain or struggle. Walking will help you sculpt and tone, while protecting your knees and bones. Both will get you started on the track to health, depending on your needs and goals.