Elliptical Machines and Walking
My Cardio Choices for Low Impact Workouts
I suffer from a number of conditions that require me to be careful of the kind of cardio exercises I do. I have joint pain from osteoarthritis, and I also have a congenital heart condition that has limited how strenuously I can exercise.
Since I live in Colorado, I do enjoy taking brisk walks when the weather is nice, but that’s not easy to do when there’s snow and ice on the ground. While there are a number of indoor cardio options, my preference is for the elliptical machine.
When I used to have a gym membership, I tried a variety of the cardio machines they had available, but I always went back to the elliptical for several reasons.
1. They burn more calories than walking, so it provides a more efficient workout.
2. They are low impact, which makes the workouts easier on my joints and heart.
3. They provide a full-body workout, as long as I remember to use the handles.
That all being said, there have been studies that show that walking is better for the hamstrings, calves, and small muscles around the ankles. So, while I did decide to get an elliptical trainer for home, to give me zero exercise excuses on bad weather days, I’m not ready to give up walking entirely.
When the weather is nice, I’m lucky to live in a quiet neighborhood with many sidewalks and greenbelt paths. Depending on how I wind my way through the neighborhood, I can get anywhere from a one-to-three-mile walk. I usually bring my dog with me and we set off on a brisk pace. I usually aim to walk around a 3.3 to 4 mph pace, as long as my dog doesn’t slow me down with too many spots to sniff along the way.
I walk instead of jog or run because it’s also lower impact and doesn’t stress my heart. Because of my heart condition, I would experience tachycardia and collapse if I tried to jog or run for much more than a block. My heartrate can easily spike over 180 bpm if I’m not careful. Thankfully, I can handle a brisk walk, and even then, my heartrate will often hit over 140 bpm.
A Balanced Approach
I’ve opted for this approach because it gives me the best of both worlds and gives me literally zero excuses not to exercise. Unless I’m genuinely ill, I am now trying to exercise every day. On the elliptical, I manage to get about 45 to 55 minutes of exercise into a session. The length varies depending on which TV series I happen to be watching while I’m working out. Most seem to last about 53 minutes.
When I’m walking outside, my walks take me around 30 to 40 minutes, depending on which path I decide to take that day, and how fast I’m able to get my dog to walk. Most often we take the 2-mile long path and walk that at a brisk 3.5 mph.
This way, I’m getting both the leg and ankle benefits from walking, and the calorie burn benefits from using the elliptical. I also think that switching up the type of exercise from time-to-time is probably good for my body, since each type activates and works slightly different muscle groups in different ways.
What’s your favorite cardio exercise?
Weekly Progress Update:
Weight on January 1, 2020: 182.6lbs
Current weight: 175.9lbs
Goal weight: 140lbs
Total steps last week: 41,894