Boomers taking to elliptical in record numbers.
Indoor fitness enthusiasts take note: These days, you might have an easier time finding a vacant treadmill at the gym than an unoccupied elliptical machine. That's because the popularity of elliptical trainers has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2007, ellipticals saw a dramatic 27% growth in sales, and there has been no looking back.
While treadmills still account for 56% of all fitness sales, according to 2009 data from the National Sporting Goods Association, elliptical trainers are the second-most popular piece of cardio equipment, and gaining ground annually. Many speculate that this is due to the massive number of people turning 65 this and next year--the oldest of the baby boomers. Known in some circles as the "silver tsunami," this fact inevitably brings with it an increased percentage of health-conscious Americans who need low-impact cardiovascular activity, and the elliptical it. The elliptical user glides rather than pounds, and that can make the crucial difference between carrying on and quitting the workout. In fact, just taking into account boomers, the aching joints of approximately 78 million people are now at stake.
Of course, both machines have certain advantages. Low-impact cross-training on a recovery day from running makes perfect sense, but if you're training for a 10K race, you'll want to spend as much time out on the roads simulating the exact conditions of the upcoming event, which even precludes too much indoor treadmilling for that matter. The casual cardio crowd, however, is chugging its way to fitness on the elliptical, perhaps for its ability to ensure the next day's pain-free workout.
And in the finicky world of personal fitness, one person's advantage is another's drawback. On a treadmill, keep up or be thrown off; on an elliptical, the manual propulsion means you set the intensity moment to moment. But this sort of pay-as-you-go feature is precisely what some dislike: it can be all too easy to bluff your way through a workout on an elliptical--the treadmill keeps you honest.
Still, there's no question the elliptical offers upper-body training that straight running doesn't. And it's impossible to state for sure which machine burns more calories for each -individual's particular regimen--some stay on the elliptical longer, even if at lower levels of exertion, yet for others the machine is an awkward and tiresome bore. It's not easy to find an activity that, minute-to-minute, burns calories quite like even slow-paced running, yet there are plenty of runners out there who anecdotally report using greater effort on an elliptical machine. Whether this is due to the somewhat unnatural feel of the workout or actual greater effort has a lot to do with the runner's usual pace, the turnover on the elliptical, and the level of familiarity with the machine.
Why choose? A familiarity with both machines, not to mention a love of the great outdoors and all its roads and trails, combined with a youthful attitude about moving one's body, are the ingredients to riding your own silver tsunami straight onto healthful, joyous shores.
Reuters Life! Oct. 18, 2010, http://www.reutershealth.com/en/index.html
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|Publication:||Running & FitNews|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2010|
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