What Exercise Machines Provide Cardio Workouts?

What Exercise Machines Provide Cardio Workouts?

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Rowing machines will give you a full body workout along with cardio.

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Maybe you love running or biking outdoors to get your cardio workout. The problem with this is that occasionally -- or even seasonally, depending on where you live -- the weather can turn against you. When that happens, you need an indoor alternative. The easiest solution is to head to the gym where you can get an effective cardio workout using exercise machines. Try out a few, then pick the one that suits you best.

Elliptical Trainers

Elliptical trainers are like a cross between stair steppers, treadmills and cross-country ski machines. They're less stressful on your joints than treadmills and stair steppers are, so ellipticals are popular with those who have suffered knee or other leg injuries. The resistance can typically be adjusted to increase the intensity of your workout, and many elliptical trainers have pre-programmed courses and workouts, too. Some models only work your legs, but others have moving handles that provide an upper body workout. Using the trainers with the arm-action will provide an increase in the calories you burn, too.


Walkers or runners who need an inclement-weather alternative, or those who simply want to change their routine or break through a plateau, find treadmills useful. Many are designed with an incline option that simulates walking or running uphill, and most have courses programmed in, too. You'll get an effective workout taking an indoor run; treadmills are the best indoor exercise machines for increasing energy expenditure, according to a study published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association."

Ski Machines

One piece of cardio equipment that incorporates arm and leg action for upper and lower body participation are cross-country ski machines. They do an impressive job of simulating cross-country skiing, requiring you to move one leg forward while sliding your other leg back, and pulling the handles or pulleys just as if you were working ski poles. Though they deliver a heart-pumping cardio workout, ski machines are also very low impact, making them appropriate for people with joint problems.

Stair Steppers

Though they offer a lower-impact workout than running, stair steppers get your heart rate up and give you a lower body workout, too. Don't undermine your workout by leaning on the handles when you stair-step, though. Exercise physiologist Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Education recommends standing upright and focusing on maintaining good posture for the duration of your stair stepper workout to increase its effectiveness and build endurance.

Rowing Machines

Harvard Health Publications says that, out of all the cardio equipment, rowing machines provide the closest thing to a full-body workout you'll find. You'll work you legs, arms and back while getting your heart rate up at the same time when you row. Stew Smith of challenges readers to try a 1,500- to 2,000-meter race -- if they have access to an indoor rower -- for a workout that will push your aerobic and anaerobic levels.

Stationary Bikes

It doesn't matter if you're spinning, riding a recumbent bike or just doing a workout on an old-school upright stationary bike. With the resistance controls and pre-programmed courses you'll find on stationary bikes, you'll get an effective cardio workout in climate-controlled comfort and with less stress on your knees than from treadmills or stair steppers. Take a spinning class for the added boost of being challenged by an instructor.


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