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Spinning class riding on a exercise bikes
Spinning class riding on a exercise bikes

Gouri Ambardekar shares her view on ellipticals.

An elliptical trainer or a cross-trainer is a stationary exercise machine. It is used to simulate stair climbing, walking or running without exerting pressure on the joints (your feet never leave the pedal). It gives a good total body workout as it exercises all the major muscle groups.

Helping patients with Diabetes

A patient with Diabetes would benefit from using an elliptical. It not only gives you a good workout but also aids in weight loss. The amount of calories you burn depends on the ramp height, resistance level and the speed with which you walk. You can easily burn 270-400 calories during a 30 minute workout. (Data from Harvard Medical School based on people ranging from 125-185 pounds). And because your feet never leave the pedals, the elliptical provides a low-impact workout that is friendly for your joints and back. Patients with neuropathy (burning and tingling sensation in the feet) or arthritis can use this machine with ease.

I would personally recommend using ellipticals as it is one of the best work out options in people with Diabetes.

Advise to the readers

A few points to keep in mind when using the elliptical –

  • Posture – Do not slouch while working out on a cross trainer it makes your work out easier and thus ineffective. Keep your spine straight and your abdominal muscles firm. Poor posture will lead to lower back pain and muscular imbalances.
  • Avoid workout plateau/Keep changing the resistance levels – By not doing so, no matter how long you work out you will not see the desired results and your workout will plateau. When working out you should feel the resistance to push and pull during each stride. Continue at a moderate pace and stop when the workout gets over exhausting.
  • Enter your information accurately – Most machines are calibrated for a 150 pound person. By personalizing your information you will get a more accurate calorie reading.
  • Do not use only your forefoot – Most people use only their forefoot to propel forward instead of planting the entire foot on the pedal and putting their weight on the heel. This puts a lot of pressure on the forefeet. It is best to sit back on your heel so that it allows the large muscle groups to work out harder.
  • Ergonomical design – Although many are available in the market not all may be necessarily good. I would always advice to choose the ones which are well ergonomically designed. Machines that are poorly designed depend excessively on the user's leg power increasing the speed of the movement of handles. As a result the person feels no resistance while working out and only flows with movement of the machine. Hence it is very important to choose the machine that offers a harmonious combination of arm and leg exercise in the correct ratios.

Advantages of ellipticals include:

  • It is a good cardiovascular total body workout.
  • It Involves movement of the entire body simulating walking or running.
  • Raises your heart rate and keeps it up for an extended period of time improving your aerobic fitness level. Aerobic exercises help decrease the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and manage your blood sugar levels better if you have Diabetes. Besides the health benefits, ellipticals are a fun way to get a good workout, improves your mood and reduces your stress levels.
  • It not only builds strength and muscle endurance in the lower body (the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves)but also works on your upper body (arms, chest and back) when you actively use the handles. The more the muscles work, the more calories you burn.

Gouri Ambardekar is a Consultant Physiotherapist at Chellaram Diabetes Institute and Hospital, Pune.

Physiotherapist rating

Effectiveness in weight loss – 3.8

Ease on joints – 4

Patient rating

Effectiveness in weight loss – 4

Ease on joints – 4

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