Even though it is often the most hated part of a fitness routine, regular cardio exercise is extremely important to keep your heart and body healthy. The benefits of cardio are well known, and include:
- Decreases risk of a stroke
- Improves memory and cognition
- Helps to protect against Alzheimer’s disease
- Healthier skin
- Helps to control blood sugar
- Improves cholesterol levels
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
- Improves bone health
- Improves mood and decreases anxiety and stress
- Better sleep and more energy
So, how much cardio should you do to reap all of these benefits? It’s not as much as you might think and there’s no set rule. You should never do so much cardio that it affects your ability to train or recover effectively. Overtraining has been linked to increased stress on the body causing heart disease, stroke and dementia.
In addition, if you are doing cardio to help you lose weight, you can actually end up gaining weight in the long run if you spend hours each day doing cardio. Believe it or not, you probably aren’t burning enough calories to create the calorie deficit you need to lose weight. This type of training is called Low-Intensity Steady State cardio: longer periods of low-intensity training.
Research has found that doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), or shorter sessions of higher intensity work followed by short periods of rest, may be more effective. This type of training can increase your metabolism, which lasts up to 24 hours after you finish exercising.
When performing both cardio and weightlifting exercise, try to do the weight lifting component first. Cardio exercise burns a lot of energy and will keep you from performing your best while lifting.
Choosing a Cardio Machine at Home
Now that you know the benefits of cardio and how to integrate it into a weight training plan, which type of cardio is best for you?
There are many different options that let you get in a good cardio workout at home.
A treadmill lets you walk or run as you would outside. Most treadmills allow you to increase the incline of the machine to simulate walking up hills and increase the intensity of your workout. Treadmills are easy to use and fine for most people to get a good cardio workout.
The treadmill might be best for people who are training for a race, who are passionate about running, or who are looking to lose weight.
There are a couple of different types of stationary bikes, which tend to mimic the way you ride a bike outdoors. The exception is a recumbent bike, where you are sitting back in a chair-like position.
Bikes are great for people who need a lower impact workout, or who have issues with their back, legs, or joints. They can also be effective for someone who is sore in their upper body from a previous workout or other injuries. Using a stationary bike can allow the upper body to rest while still getting in a good cardio workout.
Recumbent bikes, in particular, offer a gentle workout and are especially good for people recovering from an injury or older adults.
These are mini trampolines, allowing you to jump up and down or perform a variety of jumping workouts. Jumping on a trampoline trainer offers many other benefits, including blood and lymph flow throughout the body. It also supports your immune system and is very easy on your joints. Plus, it’s a ton of fun!
Ellipticals mimic the body motions associated with running, but takes all of the impact out of the movement. You also get a full body workout when using an elliptical because it engages the upper body and core as well as the legs and glutes. In addition, many machines allow you to change the resistance settings in order to increase the intensity of your workout.
Ellipticals can be used by anyone but are especially good for people who prefer a low impact workout. They’re also great for someone who is looking to improve their balance.
Rowing machines have you perform a motion like you are rowing a boat in order to increase your heart rate. Instead of using the lower body, like a treadmill or stationary bike, a rowing machine incorporates the upper body so that you get a strong and effective cardio workout that exercises all of the major muscles.
Rowing machines are best for people who may still be sore from a previous workout, or who are looking to build their endurance. Rowing is also low impact on the joints and can be good for someone who needs a lower impact workout.
Running up and down the steps is an extremely effective way of exercising your heart. However, for days you don’t feel like running the same staircase in your house, using a stepper can give you that same impact. While steppers are a great piece of equipment, they aren’t the best option for someone who has joint problems or pain in their knees, hips, or ankles.
Steppers are particularly effective for someone who is looking to lose weight, or someone who wants to build lower body strength quickly.
Which is the Best Home Cardio Machine?
There isn’t a clear answer to this question. It depends on a number of factors, including your body and fitness goals. Ideally, you’d have a couple of different cardio machines so you can switch up your workout. If that’s not possible, here are a few things to think about as you decide:
- Your fitness goals: This is one of the most important things to consider. What do you want to get out of your workout? Are you training for a marathon, or planning a long bike race? If so, it would be best to purchase a treadmill or stationary bike. If you are just looking for a way to get in some extra cardio time, which do you prefer and see yourself sticking with?
- Your fitness level: Do you have any health problems that could have an impact on which type of cardio machine is best for you? Conditions like joint problems might help you make the decision. For example, someone with knee or hip problems may want to avoid a treadmill or stepper. An older person with arthritis may prefer the comfort of a recumbent bike. If you have any questions about your health and how it may affect your ability to do cardio exercise, please speak with your doctor before making a purchase.
- Your space: If you have a large dedicated home gym, the space that the equipment is likely not relevant or important. But if you have a small space, you may want to consider a smaller, more compact machine. Some options include cardio equipment that can fold up and be put away when it isn’t in use.
- Your budget: Most people think of gym equipment as prohibitively expensive. But there are many different options that can fit into anyone’s price point. Look for something that fits within yours.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to find a cardio routine that you enjoy and will continue to do. It doesn’t matter if a particular cardio machine is the best one out there, if you don’t enjoy it you probably won’t stick with it.
If you’re ready to make a purchase, check out the selection of home cardio equipment at MarcyPro. You’ll find that Marcy offers a large variety of home gym equipment that can meet every budget, floor space and workout goals!