What is the Best Cardio Equipment Choice for You?

Working out in gym

Most gyms and fitness centers offer a wide range of equipment geared toward cardiovascular health. The goal of cardio exercise is to enhance your fitness and reduce your risk of heart disease by raising your heart rate.

But which equipment is the best option for you? Here is a brief rundown to help you plan your next workout.


Treadmills are great for running or walking, and by pumping your arms, you can get a full body workout. Treadmills are a relatively easy to use and provide weight-bearing exercise – activity that makes you move against gravity while staying upright.

The treadmill’s belt and deck provide some cushioning compared to walking on asphalt. It is easy to maintain and increase your speed during your workout. Just set your speed and go at it. Most treadmills have rails or bars to hold if needed to gain greater stability if desired.

Inclines can be adjusted on most treadmills, allowing you to make your workout harder without increasing your speed.


Ellipticals allow you to have one of the safest, full body workouts possible. You can get your legs and arms involved the entire time. This is a weight-bearing exercise with very little impact on the joints. People who may be sensitive to the impact of the treadmill, or have arthritis, love the elliptical.

On the elliptical you can adjust the resistance and the incline of your steps. You provide the motion; the machine works your muscles very well. If you are a beginner, expect to last about 3-4 minutes on the elliptical until you build up your strength.

Stationary Bikes

Stationary bikes offer a safe means for non-weight-bearing cardio exercise. Non-weight bearing exercise is appropriate for people with injuries, limited mobility in the legs, and certain conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, and obesity.

Bikes have next to no impact on the joints. People with major knee, ankle, hip or back problems find a home on the bike. Recumbent bikes (sitting in a seat that looks like a chair) are more comfortable for many people because of the shape of the seat.

Since it’s harder to get your arms involved, you will not burn as many calories as you will on the elliptical or treadmill. However, if you push yourself, you can come close by increasing the resistance and getting your heart rate into the target zone.


Rowers are also a low impact piece of cardio equipment that lets you use both upper and lower body in the movement. Rowing is a non-weight-bearing exercise that works the legs and back muscles very well. Some rowers even have a fan that spins when you pull causing a cooling breeze.

People with weak lower backs can’t last very long on rower at first. The machine forces you to use many different muscle groups that you may not have used in a while. You need to build up your time. Once you get the rhythm, you can burn a lot of calories and build back strength in a short amount of time.

Talk to Your Doctor

Before beginning any exercise program, it is important to talk with your doctor about any health concerns that could impact your exercise choices.

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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