Right after jogging took off, and the treadmill became a default gym inventory, cardio was crowned the king of fitness. Running apps are now downloaded in millions, fitness trackers are sold like watches, and running shoes are a basic fitness gear that almost everybody has in their closet. And cardio equipment, for those who dread variety in fitness, and generally avoid the outdoors, is another gateway to developing aerobic and anaerobic capacity.
Cardio exercises, varying in type and difficulty, can be performed at longer or shorter time intervals, with different degrees of intensity. Depending on what you prefer, you can be working on building your aerobic or anaerobic capacity. They are excellent for weight loss, help with VO2 increase, and thus result with numerous improvements in sports performance.
While cardio is predominantly associated with repetitive activities such as cycling, swimming and most of all running, it can easily be enjoyed by performing bodyweight workouts and even weight lifting. Cardio equipment, for those of you who want an easy-to-measure, and constantly predictable activity, are an excellent investment which pays dividends down the road. So what is the market offering, you ask?
The best cardio equipment on the market
If you want to invest in cardio equipment, you need to think about what you want the most. If running is giving you thrills, then by all means buy a treadmill. There are, however, exercise bikes, step machines, elliptical trainers, and rowing machines. Each of these offers a different style of workout, and in order to stick with the routine on the long run, you should follow your preferences.
Treadmills are useful for replacing the road. Just put your running shoes on, hop in, and enjoy a full running session from the comfort of your home. For those of you living under warmer climate, treadmills are generally a waste of time, but if you live in a different environment, and catch yourself using the weather as an excuse, definitely consider buying yourself one.
Depending on how much money you are willing to invest, you can purchase a treadmill with different speed settings, altitude adjustment, and dozens of other features. Pricier treadmills are usually far sturdier, and take up more space, so make sure to take dimensions first.
Step machines are excellent for strengthening your core, improving you balance, and working the legs, all the while enjoying your cardio. They cost way less than most of the other cardio equipment listed here, and doesn’t take up any space.
Rowing machines, unlike these two other categories of cardio equipment, glue your butt down to a saddle. And depending on resistance adjustment, you can either train anaerobically for fat loss, or even work harder for some serious muscle gain as well. Rowing machines will work on your back, chest, core, arms and entire legs simultaneously, creating a strong burn, and depleting more calories. New models supply the resistance by including water tanks, and feature impeccable design which is also a decoration statement.
Exercise bikes on the other hand offer a completely different cardio routine. Ever since spinning classes became popular in the US, they’ve been selling in millions. And while treadmills allow you to work on your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, while burning calories, exercise bikes are excellent for training the glutes, hamstrings and butt as well. Compared to a treadmill, an exercise bike will work wonders for your core.
Elliptical trainers are somewhat of a mix between a treadmill and an exercise bike. They take up a lot of space, are generally affordable, and have resistance adjustment included. Unlike exercise bikes, they rely more on resistance while working every part of the body.
Why use cardio equipment?
If you are planning to invest in cardio equipment, remember these two facts – one, it provides more convenience; and two, it doesn’t work by itself.
If you are the type of person who is lazy when it comes to getting outside, and have a track record of using excuses for not working out, then cardio equipment can help rather much.
The benefits of doing cardio:
- Better sleep quality – when performing aerobic and especially anaerobic exercises, you fall asleep faster, wake up less, and feel more energized the following morning.
- Weight loss – aerobic exercises can sometimes burn more calories than lifting weights. Anaerobic exercises on the other hand, don’t only achieve a higher burn effect, but also prolong this state way after the workout session is over.
- Reduced stress – when you work out with cardio exercises, you enter a state of flow, lose track of time, and forget about problems. On the long run, this can alleviate depression, anxiety and other requiring mood and mental issues.
- Increased bone density – while those who suffer from bone weakness are generally advised not to try cardio, people who do exercise regularly have lower risks of developing osteoporosis and reduced bone density. So the catch here is to have cardio sessions way before bone related problems appear, as an act of prevention. Generally speaking, the older you are, the more important cardio becomes, and the sooner you should put your shoes on.
- Stronger heart and lungs – cardio is all about weight loss and improving the cardiovascular system of your body. This means more energy, improved oxidation, blood circulation, and reduced risk of heart disease.
- Reduced risk of cancer – the more you improve oxidation, reduce stress, and burn fat tissue, the less likely it becomes for various types of cancer to develop. Cardio, therefore, can act like prevention against cancer, so consider your workout sessions as an investment in your health as well, especially when preparing for an old age.
Remind yourself of these benefits when you need motivation, and remember to always be mindful during each cardio session in order to enjoy them even more. Other than that, make a goal, be consistent, and progress one step at a time. With the right equipment and mindset, this can become a habit for many years, and quite possibly a lifetime.