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Do Cardio Machines Actually Help You Lose Weight?

Cardio machines are an appropriate complement to a complete weight loss program. But it's important to incorporate other forms of exercise into your life in order to reach an optimal level of workout intensity.

It doesn’t require expert advice from a trained fitness professional to understand that cardiovascular activity is an integral aspect of your overall fitness level. Cardiovascular exercise has been scientifically tested to improve heart function and muscular endurance, in addition to fueling a bounty of other health benefits. But is the slog of jogging on a treadmill for seemingly countless hours per week the most efficient method of cardio exercise, and do these machines actually spur sustainable weight loss?

Cost of Not Running Outdoors

Popular belief might lead you to think that running outdoors causes innumerable stress on joints and ligaments in the lower extremities, but the cost of running outdoors is less than that of a treadmill. According to a study published by the Journal of Sports Sciences in 1996, the lack of air resistance within the general climate of a typical gym results in less energy expended in comparison to outdoor activity. This does not render cardio machines incapable of aiding your weight loss efforts, however, it does indicate that running outdoors is slightly more efficient, and should be regularly incorporated into your workout routine.

Gauging Intensity

The habitual routines that we endure on an everyday basis have the potential to let up daily workout regimens. If your exercise goal is to lose weight, this could prove costly, especially if you don’t increase your heart rate to moderate intensity. According to the MayoClinic, a 160-pound person burns approximately 606 calories per hour during a one-hour run at 5 mph, whereas the same person burns just 314 calories at a 3.5-mph pace. This variance could ultimately determine whether you’re able to reach your weight loss goals. A slight boost in heart rate will yield added calories burned. An optimal level of intensity is between 75 and 90 percent of your maximum heart rate, which can be calculated by simply subtracting your age from 220.

Caloric Deficiency

Exercise is merely one aspect of weight loss. Burning fat can be boiled down to simple science; it requires caloric deficiency, which essentially means that you need to burn more calories than you consume to stave off unsightly fatty tissues. Although semi-frequent usage of elliptical machines, Stairmasters and treadmills will help you burn calories, it’s important to understand that you may need to alter your diet in order to shed some extra pounds. This doesn’t equate to starving yourself, however, it’s important to eat at least 1,800 calories per day, even while dieting.

Recommendations for Improvement

It’s important to incorporate variation into your workout regimen. This concept doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your weekly exercise schedule, but it does demand a few minute changes, like occasionally running outside, or taking a hike instead of spending an hour on a Stairmaster. Cardio machines do indeed help you lose weight, but avoiding the lull of the daily grind at the gym could help increase your level of workout intensity, and boost your motivation.

John Shea is a team sports fanatic and fitness aficionado. His work has been published across a wide platform of online audiences in the realm of health and fitness. His passion for fitness is exemplified in his writing, as he aims to help readers improve their overall well-being.

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