Choosing the Best Exercise Machines
Choosing the best exercise machines for weight loss boils down to more than just calories burned. Even the best calorie-burner won't do you any good if you don't like it enough to use it regularly, and if you like a less-efficient piece of equipment well enough to work out hard on it, you might actually burn more calories than on a more-efficient exercise machine that doesn't inspire you.
According to Consumer Reports, treadmills are the most common workout machine in the United States.
Weight-bearing: Walking or running on a treadmill can help build stronger bones in your feet, legs, pelvis and lower back.
Low-impact: You can get an intense, low-impact treadmill workout by walking at a steep incline setting.
Programs: Most motorized treadmills come with at least a few preprogrammed workouts that automatically adjust speed and incline for you, keeping you entertained and leaving you free to focus on your walk or run.
Folding: Treadmills are relatively large but many home-use models fold when not in use, making them a decent choice if you don't have much space.
High-impact: Although walking on a treadmill is low impact, running, even on a cushioned treadmill deck, places extra stress on your joints.
Sound: Treadmills might not be the best exercise machines for weight loss if you live in an upstairs apartment or condo. The sound from the treadmill's motor or your footfalls may bother your downstairs or next-door neighbors.
Immensely popular, elliptical trainers may be the best exercise machines for weight loss if you want to run but can't handle the impact or noise of using a treadmill.
Low-impact and Quiet: No matter how hard and fast you run on an elliptical trainer, your feet never leave the pedals. So there's no pounding to jar your joints or disturb the neighbors. Elliptical resistance is also almost always very quiet.
Weight-bearing: Since your feet support your weight as you pedal, the elliptical trainer counts as weight-bearing exercise.
Programs: Most elliptical trainers come with preprogrammed workouts that adjust resistance and in some cases, incline too.
Size: Most sturdy elliptical trainers don't fold for storage, and may have a footprint more than 70 inches long.
Fit: Most elliptical trainers come with a fixed stride length. If the stride length doesn't fit your natural stride, walking and running on the elliptical will feel awkward.
Sleepy Feet: Some elliptical users report symptoms ranging from ankle and knee discomfort to foot numbness.
Exercise bikes mimic the familiar motion of riding a real bike. If you feel uncomfortable sitting on a bike seat, a recumbent bike with a wide, flat seat and backrest might be one of the best exercise machines for weight loss you can choose.
Quiet: Middle to high-end exercise bikes use quiet magnetic resistance. Lower-end bikes might use noisier air or direct-tension resistance, but might still be quiet enough for watching television as you pedal.
Small: Exercise bikes have one of the smallest footprints you'll find in home cardio equipment.
Low-impact: Your feet never leave the bike's pedals, so it's very gentle on your joints.
Not Weight-bearing: Since your feet don't carry your weight as you pedal, exercise bikes don't count as weight-bearing exercise.
Other Types of Exercise
Although bikes, treadmills, and elliptical trainers are some of the best exercise machines for weight loss, you can also boost your weight loss with strength training, which both burns calories and reshapes your body by building lean muscle mass. Start with a few basic exercises, then gradually work up to more advanced exercises as you build strength, endurance, and coordination.