Cardiovascular activity is imperative for your heart and lungs. There are so many choices when it comes to cardio, such as: treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair steppers, rowers, upright bikes, recumbent bikes and all types of hybrid machines on infomercial commercials. But often times I find people asking me which piece of equipment is best. The answer truly is whichever one you like the best, because you’re more apt to use it more and stay on it longer. But, you also need to make sure that the one you like the best is the one that is best for you.
By that I mean, whichever one may suit you physically and does not cause any contraindications. Walking on a treadmill burns 100 calories each mile. However, the treadmill is still impact and could pose some problems. If you’re overweight the treadmill could put added stress on your joints. Also, if you have balance issues the moving track on a treadmill could feel awkward.
Elliptical trainers pack a similar calorie burn to treadmills with less impact. It is important however to really focus on your form. I find that many people who complain of knee pain when using an elliptical are not using the correct body mechanics and breathing. It is important to stand upright, holding your core in tight while taking long deep breaths and exhaling at the same tempo, so you're not holding your breath. It is important that when you move forward, you're doing so using your entire foot and not simply pressing down on your toes. That is where the knee pain comes into play, because all of the pressure is being put on the front of the leg. In order to maintain balance push down on the whole foot on the downward motion and pull-up through the heels utilizing your hamstrings. You'll not only eliminate pain and numbness in your feet, you'll also strengthen your hamstrings and glutes in addition to your quadriceps.
If you have a knee problem, the machine that offers the least impact is the stationary bike. Remember, to use proper body mechanics and utilize both your hamstrings and quadriceps. It is imperative to make sure the bike is adjusted correctly with only a slight bend in your knee.