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The Technology Behind Elliptical Cross Trainers Creates Unique Advantages and Benefits
By: C.J. Gustafson

The Technology Behind Elliptical Cross Trainers Creates Unique Advantages and Benefits

The word elliptical means shaped like an oval. In the world of fitness and exercise, elliptical technology is a relatively new, innovative equipment design that draws on a smooth, elliptical movement to provide a low impact form of weight bearing exercise that is fun and easy to learn.

Elliptical cross trainers have footpads that allow you to stand up while you exercise. They have handgrips for you to hold onto and help maintain balance. Some even have handles to use in working your upper body. Because you are standing, the exercise is similar to walking or running. But the arm bars and elliptical motion create similarities with biking or skiing. The main difference with elliptical exercise machines is that although you are standing and bearing weight, which is important to building bone density, your feet never leave the footpads. So unlike treadmills or jogging, there is little impact on your joints and muscles. This provides a low impact, total body workout.

Elliptical Technology

The advantages of this type of smooth, non-jarring motion come from the elliptical design of the exercise equipment. Elliptical technology has come to be known as a combination of mechanisms and design features, unique to elliptical cross trainers, which create a motion similar to the natural path the feet, legs and hips follow during actual motor activities such as walking or running.

There are several different types of elliptical equipment available, and the list of choices seems to grow each day. However, most elliptical fitness machines have a crank arm that is attached to a stable bar at one end and an axis at the other. The axis end revolves as the bar moves and the other end moves in a flat, nearly liniar back and forth motion. This causes an elliptical path for the overall movement of the machine. Most elliptical exercise machines built for home use provide resistance through a band around the flywheel. Some high end and commercial elliptical cross trainers use magnetic resistance.

Like a bicycle, this elliptical motion is smooth and continuous. With a stair stepper or other similar equipment, there is a pattern of motion and reverse motion, an up and down or back and forth, to which your feet and legs must continually adapt. At the point where the forward motion ends and the reverse motion begins, there is an impact from the force of the machine, which is still in motion. Your joints, bones, and muscles have to stop the motion and reverse it each time.

With an elliptical trainer, there is no halting of motion and reversal of direction. Your legs keep moving in the same manner continually, even though there is an overall range of motion. Many elliptical cross trainers allow you to reverse the direction of motion by changing a setting. Thus you are able to work the opposing muscles, while still maintaining the smooth, non-jarring motion.

Benefits and Advantages

Studies have shown that weight bearing exercises are essential for maintaining and improving bone density. Yet many weight bearing workouts create high impact stress on joints and muscles. This can cause health problems, especially for people with injuries or arthritis. Additionally, many of the different types of exercise equipment available only work one or two areas of the body, which is a drawback for people who want an overall workout.

Under most circumstances, the ideal piece of fitness equipment will be provide weight bearing exercise, while limiting impact and providing for a total body workout. Optimizing cardiovascular benefits is also important. Many styles of exercise equipment address one or two of these concerns, but few combine all the advantages in an overall fitness package such as that provided by elliptical cross trainers.

For example, a stationary bike provides relatively smooth, non-jarring motion, but since you are sitting, you donít get the weight bearing advantages. A treadmill fulfills the weight bearing aspect, but at the expense of stress to your joints each time your foot hits the running surface. Swimming is a great form of exercise that tends to work a majority of the bodyís muscle groups, however, it is not considered a weight bearing activity. When considering the overall needs of an exercise program, few types of fitness equipment meet the overall needs quite as well as elliptical cross trainers.

The advantages and benefits of an elliptical trainer as compared to other fitness equipment are:

  • Weight bearing form of exercise that helps maintain bone density
  • Continuous elliptical motion creates a low impact workout
  • The motion is similar to walking and is thus easy to learn and sustain
  • Handles encourage users to work upper body muscles providing a total body workout
  • Offers one of the best forms of cardiovascular training Ė onboard computers help plan and monitor cardio workouts.
  • Equipment is relatively simple, so there are fewer parts to replace or mechanical things that can go wrong.

Beware Of Imitators

Unfortunately, as with many innovative, beneficial, and popular ideas, elliptical technology has become somewhat corrupted by those who want to cash in on the appeal but who lack a commitment to or understanding of the true basis for the design. Some elliptical equipment does not offer the natural, simulated movement of true elliptical cross trainers. Others use inferior designs and materials, resulting in a jerky or jarring motion that negates the value of the equipment.

When purchasing an elliptical exercise machine, be sure that it provides a stable frame or platform, adequately sized foot platforms, and most importantly, a smooth, continuous motion. Try out the machine. Does the movement required feel natural and comfortable? Also check to see if the machine has adjustments for speed, incline and direction.

Elliptical technology, in its true form, is one of the best innovations to hit the fitness industry in the past decade. It truly does address some of the common exercise and health concerns while providing for a relatively easy, often enjoyable form of exercise. Unlike some of the gadgets and gimmicks that have come along over the years, elliptical cross trainers have the ability to help users get fit, lose weight, and improve overall health.

About The Author:

C.J. Gustafson is a successful writer for http://www.elliptical-machines-n-trainers.com
She enjoys researching different exercise technologies and feels that elliptical trainers and elliptical machines truly offer a whole new way of exercising.

Copyright 2005 Elliptical-Machines-N-Trainers.com

Permission is granted to publish this article on your site only if the author's byline is included and all 3 links are hyperlinked.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/


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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape

 

Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.


Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
shocks.

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
speaking.

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
time.

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:
http://tinyurl.com/6c6kq
 

Dave Snape

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