Cardio machines are a wide range of fitness machines that allow you to get a full cardiovascular workout indoors. Research has shown that they are as effective as outdoors running and cycling for improving overall health and losing weight. Cardio exercise is one of the most effective ways of protecting your heart as you age. Research has shown that just 10 minutes per day of exercise on a cardio machine can lower the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, cardio exercise can help you shed pounds. They burn as many calories as other forms of aerobic exercise such as running and also help you target muscles in your upper body. Studies have also shown that cardio machines are an effective way of maintaining good mental health. They can lower the risk of depression and also help fight off the effects of excess stress.
Furthermore, they can help boost energy levels and improve sleep quality, both of which lower the risk of developing depression. Although generally safe, there are a few risks and downsides associated with the use of cardio machines. Some machines, such as ellipticals, won’t help increase bone density, so they may not be as effective for the elderly.
People with heart conditions should speak to their doctor before using a cardio machine, as they are at a greater risk of having a cardiac attack while exercising.
1Cardio machines can increase stamina. Aerobic exercise makes your lungs and heart go into overdrive, increasing their capacity, and helping deliver more oxygen to your muscles. Regular use of cardio machines can help improve stamina in a wide range of workouts, helping you push your body further. It strengthens your heart, making it more efficient at pumping blood throughout the body.
2Cardio machines can protect your joints and knees. Cardio exercises such as running have a wide range of health benefits, improving heart health to lowering the risk of weight gain and diabetes. But running can put a heavy strain on your knees, leading to joint damage over time (1).
Low impact cardio machines offer most of the health benefits of running with fewer side effects. They put less strain on joints, leading to less wear over time. Since your body is less sore after a workout, it makes it easier to stick to an exercise routine and lose weight.
3Cardio machines help you lose weight. Cardio has long been the favored exercise for losing weight. It can help you burn a significant amount of calories and shed excess body fat. Cardio machines are as effective as other forms of cardio exercise for weight loss and fat burning.
Experts recommend around 150 minutes per week of cardio at a moderate pace if you want to lose weight (2).
4Cardio machines help tone glutes. There are a number of cardio machines designed to help tone your glutes. Stair steppers are one of the most effective ways of building up your glutes and increasing muscle tone.
Other common cardio machines such as ellipticals also target your lower body, helping you tighten up muscles and burn off fat.
5Cardio machines work both the upper and lower body. Traditional cardio exercises, such as running and cycling, are excellent workouts that can help you burn calories and lose weight. However, they don’t do much to engage muscles in the upper body.
Many cardio machines such as ellipticals are designed to engage both your lower and upper body at the same time. In addition to your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads, you’ll engage your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and core.
This can increase the number of calories you burn per workout, leading to faster weight loss. It also helps improve muscle tone throughout the body, as a greater number of muscles are engaged.
6Cardio machines let you exercise no matter the weather. While there are benefits to exercising outside, inclement weather often causes people to miss workouts, or gives them an excuse to skip a day. Cardio machines make it easier to stick to an exercise routine and lose weight.
Designed for indoor use, you won’t have to worry about a rainstorm putting a stop to your workout.
7Cardio machines help you vary your workouts. There is a range of different cardio machines that target slightly different muscle groups. This makes it easy to vary your workout to ensure that all of the core muscles in your body are engaged.
Treadmills are effective for working most of the muscles in the legs. Ellipticals allow you to target these same muscles while also engaging your upper body. Other machines such as stair steppers are specifically designed to target the glutes and calves, helping you improve muscle tone. By varying workouts, you can reduce wear to your body and lower the risk of muscle strains or other injuries.
Studies have shown that a mix of different exercise types can improve bone density, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve energy levels (3).
Cardio machines give you the variety of exercises needed to engage the body fully.
8Cardio machines lower your risk of injury. Outdoor cardio exercises such as running and cycling are an effective way of losing weight and improving overall health. However, they come with the added risk of injury from falls and accidents.
Studies have reported hundreds of thousands of knee injuries per year due to running. Research has also shown that there are upwards of 50,000 cycling-related accidents every year in the United States (4, 5).
Cardio machines offer the same benefits as running and cycling with a significantly lower risk of injury. Many of the machines have little or no impact, putting less strain on the knees and on joints throughout the body.
Furthermore, there is little risk of falls or accidents while exercising. This makes it much less likely that you’ll be sidelined with an injury.
9Cardio machines help you exercise even if you’re injured. Many people struggle to stay in shape after an injury, as limited mobility keeps them from running or cycling. This can lead to weight gain, as well as have an impact on your mood and energy levels.
Many cardio machines are designed to put minimal impact on your joints, so you can continue to exercise after an injury. Machines such as ellipticals and stationary bikes are commonly used after leg injuries to maintain muscle strength and increase blood flow to the damaged area (6).
Although some cardio machines are safe to use after an injury, some are not. To avoid reinjuring any damaged areas, speak to your doctor about the exact workout you plan on doing.
A large portion of reinjuries are caused by people exercising before they have healed enough. Even with low impact cardio machines, you should start at an easy pace and slowly work your way back as you regain strength.
10Cardio machines can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cardio exercise has long been recommended as one of the best ways to protect your heart as you age. Combined with a healthy diet, it can lower the risk of mortality from a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.
Studies have shown that elderly people who get as little as 10 minutes of cardio exercise per day show have significantly lower mortality from heart disease. People who exercised more than 10 minutes per day saw even greater improvements in heart health (7).
11Cardio machines can lower the risk of depression. Studies have linked depression and low exercise levels. People who exercise less are significantly more likely to develop depression and other mental health issues (8).
Cardio exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of preventing depression. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, studies indicate that daily cardio significantly lowers the risk of depression (9).
Cardio machines make it easy to get daily exercise, helping you lower the number of workouts you skip. They may also help you sleep better, which is one of the most effective ways of maintaining good mental health and preventing depression (10).
Research has indicated that, in addition to preventing depression, exercise may also be effective for managing symptoms. People with depression who exercised more frequently reported improved mood and better energy levels.
12Cardio machines can boost energy levels. Although cardio exercise can take up a lot of energy, studies have shown that it boosts energy levels long term. People who exercise less are more fatigued and less energetic throughout the day. They often don’t sleep as well, which can further sap energy levels.
Cardio machines can help improve your energy levels and give you enough fuel to get through your day. Furthermore, exercise can help you cut back on stimulants such as coffee, which often lead to energy crashes and poor sleep quality.
13Cardio machines can improve your sex life. Studies have shown that increased cardio exercise can lead to significant improvements in sex life. People who exercise 3 to 4 times per week had greater stamina during sex and were also less likely to have performance issues (11).
In addition to boosting performance, cardio exercise may also increase libido and desire.
14Cardio machines lower the risk of diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects your body’s ability to manage sugar levels. It can lead to weight gain, as well as cause a range of heart problems, neurological issues, and vision loss.
Along with a healthy diet, cardio exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of preventing diabetes. Research has indicated that people who get 10 to 30 minutes of cardio exercise are significantly less likely to develop diabetes (12).
Furthermore, cardio exercise is an effective way of managing diabetes if you already have the condition. Patients with diabetes who were put on a regular cardio exercise regimen had increased insulin sensitivity and were less likely to gain weight.
15Cardio machines can reduce stress. Research has shown that nearly ¾ of Americans suffer from symptoms related to excess stress, including fatigue, anxiety, headaches, and poor sleep quality. This can have a significant impact on job performance and on your social life.
Studies have linked high exercise levels with lower amounts of stress. Cardio exercise lowers the risk of anxiety and can boost mood and energy levels (13).
Cardio exercise helps reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline, two molecules that drive the stress response in humans. It also releases endorphins, molecules that boost your mood and make you feel happier and more energetic.
1Cardio machines can cause injury. Many cardio machines have a lower risk of injury than running or cycling, as you are unlikely to fall or trip as you exercise. However, muscle strains and other injuries can still occur, especially if you try to push too hard while working out. Cardio machines are designed to put less strain on your legs and back than running. Although this does reduce the risk of lower-body injuries, it also means that certain leg muscles may not get as strong.
Studies have shown that certain types of resistance and impact exercise can help strengthen bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis as you age. Since cardio machines such as ellipticals don’t put any impact on your legs, they do little to help improve bone density.
Also make sure that any loose clothing or headphone cords are tucked away as you exercise, as they can get caught on parts of the machine as you move.
2Cardio machines may be harmful for those with health issues. If you have a heart condition, speak to your doctor before using a cardio machine. Although often safe if you exercise at a moderate pace, you should make sure your heart rate doesn’t get too high. If you are using a stationary bike, make sure that the seat is properly adjusted so that you don’t have to stretch to reach the pedals. If the seat is not in the correct position, you could strain your hips while exercising.
Most cardio machines will be safe for women who are pregnant. However, you should speak to your doctor about your exercise routine to make sure that your workouts are safe.
Cardio machines vary widely in terms of features, so follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for best results. Studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes of cardio exercise per day can significantly lower the risk of mortality from cardiac events.
If you are exercising to lose weight, experts recommend that you get at least 150 minutes of cardio exercise at a moderate pace per week. Research has shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be more effective for burning calories and losing weight. This type of exercise involves short bursts of intense activity, followed by a rest period at a slower pace.
If you have a heart condition, speak to your doctor before using a cardio machine. Although most are safe, your doctor may recommend that you exercise at a slower pace and monitor your heart rate. Although the use of cardio machines alone will be effective for losing weight and improving health, they are most effective when combined with other forms of exercise, such as resistance training.
Are cardio machines as effective for weight loss as running? For most users, yes. Studies have shown that a range of different cardio machines are effective for weight loss and fat burning. They burn a similar amount of calories as running while putting less strain on your body.
How often should you use a cardio machine? That depends on what your fitness goals are. For general cardio health, as little as 10 minutes per day has been shown to have proven benefits, reducing the risk for a range of cardiovascular diseases. If you are exercising to try to lose weight, then you’ll likely need to increase the length of your daily workout. Experts recommend around 150 minutes of cardio exercise per week to shed weight and help burn fat.
Are cardio machines safer than running? In general, yes. Cardio machines have a lower risk of falls or other accidents, and they tend to put less strain on your legs and back than running. They are also considerably safer than cycling, as there is no risk of getting in a road accident as you exercise.
What type of cardio machine is the most effective? That depends on what you are using the machine for. Treadmills are one of the best options for burning calories quickly, although they can put plenty of strain on your legs. Ellipticals won’t burn quite as many calories, but they are gentler on your joints.
Can cardio machines replace running outdoors? For many people, cardio machines can fully replace running outdoors, especially if that’s not an activity you enjoy. You’ll get most of the same health benefits with a slightly lower risk of injury.
However, those training for long runs should not use cardio machines as a full replacement for regular running. Cardio machines can help improve lung capacity and heart health, and they can help you rest tired muscles while still continuing to train. However, cardio machines will do little to improve athletic performance in other activities such as running and cycling.
Are stationary bikes as effective as road cycling? For many users, yes. Stationary bikes will allow you to burn an equivalent amount of calories as road cycling, provided you ride at a similar pace. However, there are some benefits to road cycling. Turning and maneuvering a bike engages a number of muscle groups throughout the body. With a stationary bike, you won’t work these same muscles.
How high should your heart rate get on a cardio machine? The target heart rate will depend on your age and fitness goals, as well as the type of workout you’re doing. During high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you’ll often get to around 80% of your max heart rate. For more moderate cardio, you should aim for a heart rate that is around 50-60% of your max.
To calculate your max heart rate, take your age and subtract it from 220. For example, someone who is 50 years old will have a max heart rate of around 170.
How expensive are cardio machines? There are a number of different types of cardio machines, so cost can vary widely depending on the machine you choose. Some ellipticals can be found for only a few hundred dollars, whereas many stair climbers will cost well over $2,000.
Are stair steppers as effective for weight loss as treadmills? That depends on the type of workout you do. Stair steppers can be an effective way of losing weight, provided that you exercise at a moderate pace and get your heart rate up to around 60% of your max.
Cardio machines are an effective indoor substitute for aerobic exercise such as running or cycling. You’ll get many of the same overall health benefits with a significantly lower risk of injury. Studies have shown that cardio machines can help you burn fat and lose weight. They can also help protect your heart as you age. Just 10 minutes per day of exercise can lower the risk of death from a heart attack.
Furthermore, regular use of a cardio machine can have a positive impact on your mental health. Studies have linked higher rates of aerobic exercise with a lower risk of depression and anxiety. They also release endorphins and reduce levels of cortisol and adrenaline, helping you feel more energetic and less stressed.
Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise can improve sleep quality, reducing the number of disturbances, and increasing the amount of rest you get every night. It has also been shown to improve sex life, increasing stamina, energy levels, and libido.
Cardio machines are also some of the most widely available gym equipment, and they can be used no matter the weather. This makes it easier to begin and stick to an exercise regimen.
Cardio machines are considered safe if used according to instructions. However, they should not be used as a substitute for running or cycling if you are an athlete training for competition. You should also speak to your doctor before using a cardio machine if you have a heart condition.