LIFE FITNESS INVENTORY 4-9-13Exercise machines come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. When determining the best choice for an obese individual, the primary factors to consider include the weight capacity of the machine, the effectiveness of the workout and the low-impact properties of the machine. The obese often experience joint pain and other discomfort when using high-impact exercise machines, such as treadmills, so it’s important to find a low-impact solution. Elliptical machines are effective aerobic conditioning machines that fit all these requirements.



How it Works

Elliptical machines provide a similar type of aerobic benefit compared to treadmills, according to the Mayo Clinic, but the primary difference is the low-impact quality of elliptical machines. Since your feet never leave the independently driven foot pedals, your joints don’t experience the jarring effect experienced when jogging or running. Elliptical machines help to tone your entire body, including your arms, core muscles and legs. Most elliptical models feature a convenient LCD display that keeps track of your time, distance, calories burned and workout progress.

Weight Capacity

Not all elliptical machines are created equal. It’s important to pay special attention to the particular model’s weight capacity to ensure that it will accommodate your body weight. Rick Rojas of Elliptical suggests that people of 250 lbs. or more choose an elliptical machine that is commercial-grade, such as the ones used as most gyms and fitness centers. These machines tend to cost more, but they will last longer and provide a more stable, smooth ride during your workout.


The primary benefit of elliptical machines for obese people is that the unique and smooth exercise motion puts limited stress on your knees, back and hips. These machines are also a full-body workout, so you can exercise your upper and lower body at the same time. Another benefit of ellipticals is the ability to pedal them in reverse to exercise and tone different muscles of your legs. Elliptical machines can burn a significant number of calories; the Mayo Clinic points out that a 240 lb. person doing low-impact aerobic exercise, such as elliptical training, can burn 545 calories per hour.


Depending upon the type of elliptical trainer you choose, the cost can vary anywhere from $200 for a basic model up to $1,000 or more for a feature-filled commercial-grade model as of February, 2011. Commercial-grade models are best suited for obese individuals weighing 250 lbs. or more, especially if you plan to do any type of high-intensity training that could cause a cheaper model to become unstable during your workout. A few of the top commercial-grade elliptical machine manufacturers include NordicTrack, Precor, FreeMotion and Fitnex.

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