Equipment Selection Factors
When you are selecting a piece of cardio equipment, keep in mind these general facts (we'll discuss the advantages of each specific machine in later articles):
- You will burn more calories on any machine you actually use, than by not using "the best" machine.
- Are you supporting your body weight? - Treadmills, ellipticals, steppers and treadclimbers burn more calories per hour than bikes because of this (but bike settings can be adjusted to compensate)
- Are you launching your bodyweight with each movement? Treadmills, treadclimbers and steppers all make you do this.
- Impact on joints - Ellipticals and bikes have minimal impact on joints, treadclimbers a bit more, steppers a bit more, and treadmills have the most impact on your joints. If you have joint problems, keep this in mind when picking a machine.
- An elliptical requires a self-motivated person since the machine will slow-down if the user slows down.
- The size of motor or type of belt in a cardio machine may not be as important as the user-weight to machine-weight ratio. As an example, a 200 pounds person running creates a 600 pound force on the treadmill deck. A 100 pounds treadmill will flex under this pressure, then creak and eventually break.
Who's the machine for?
Ask yourself these questions to help you pick the best machine for your needs:
- What is the fitness level of the user(s)?
- Is the user self-motivated or do they require motivation?
- What are the goals of user(s)?
- What are the size of user(s)?
- Stride length
- What will the amount of use per day be?
- What will be the speed of user(s)?
- Walking - less than 4.5 mph
- Jogging - 4.5-7.5 mph
- Running - 7.5 + mph
- What are your space limitations?
- Will you need a folding treadmill to save on space or do you want one that's more stationary?
- Having one multi-purpose machines vs. having multiple single purpose machines
- How much time can you devote to working out?
- Do you need exercises or movements that hit arms and legs at the same time?