Contents of Article

What is Cardio?
Cardio Machines
Treadmill
Crosstrainer
Recumbent Bike
Upright Bike
Rowing Machine
Hand Cycle/Bike

What is 'Cardio' and why is it important?

Put simply cardio is important because your heart is a muscle and if you don't look after it, it's likely to become weaker and less efficient. Cardio puts stress on your heart by making it work harder than it would usually work by pumping more blood around the body. This gradually creates a stronger heart. When you do cardio, your muscle cells need more oxygen and nutrients. To keep up with this sudden demand, your circulatory system strengthens in order to deliver energy; the lungs increase in capacity, the heart is able to pump more blood and the blood vessels become reinforced. This strengthened system means that your cells get more of the nutrients they need. 

Cardio also reduces the stress on your heart because the system will have to work less when not active. The average person has a heartbeat of around 80 - 90 BPM when stationary, whereas a moderately active runner, comes in at around 60 - 70 BPM. 

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What are the benefits of cardio machines?

You can find most of the best cardio equipment down your local gym, so it's worth thinking about some kind of membership if you haven't done so already. Of course you don't always have to attend the gym in order to work on your cardio. You can do a variety of activities outside the gym; swimming (get down to the local pool, this is also a great whole body workout), running (just step outside and get running, although over time this can damage the joints!), skipping (you don't really even need to leave the house) or even power walking (turn that walk home from work into a cardio busting power walk!).

The guide below takes your through the cardio equipment you're most likely to see in the gym, and the most useful  - this can be anything from the treadmills to the rowing machines. But what are the benefits of each, and which is best for you? 

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Treadmill

V-Fit Strider CX9 Treadmill

Treadmills are the easiest of all the cardio machines to work with. They're set to a pace that you control, whether that be walking, jogging or even running. Every good quality treadmill has the ability to change speed and incline (slope) level. Treadmills often have safety features installed in order to prevent injury, such as an auto-stop switch and side rails to hold when needed. Another great feature many treadmills now offer is a heart rate monitor, which is extremely useful when working on your cardio because you can easily tell when your heart rate is close to its max.

The treadmill burns as many calories as any other cardio machine when used correctly. Even walking briskly can burn up to 100 calories per mile! Running on a treadmill can burn from 600 - 1200 calories per hour and running up an incline can majorly boost your metabolism! The reason for the treadmill being the most popular calorie burning cardio machine is the versatility of workouts offered.

Treadmills are also a great machine to have in the home, and many fold up to save space wen not being used. Perhaps you don't have time to get to the gym every day, or perhaps you have children. Well, don't let that be an excuse! You can now hire and buy treadmills for your home! 

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Cross Trainer

Horizon Andes 6 Folding Elliptical

Cross trainers are fairly easy to understand and work with! One of the more intense cardio machines, designed to combine the movement of a treadmill, bike and stepper into one machine that moves in an eclipse pattern. Mimicking running, the cross trainer allows a smooth and natural motion. Most modern cross trainers come with an option to set a resistance, and this makes running on the machine harder, so this means you have to work harder! A cross trainer also works the whole body rather than just one section, the movement of your arms along with your legs allows a well-rounded workout. As the cross trainer doesn't require you to actually run indeed much physical movement on the machine, it's extremely low impact on your joints. 

 A cross trainer is capable of burning more than 100 calories per 1000 strides - up to 800 calories per hour with increased speed and resistance. 

It's great to have as part of your own little gym by hiring or even buying this machine. 

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Recumbent Bike

Sole R92 Recumbent Cycle

The recumbent bike is one variation of many different bike machines! The recumbent bike is a more laid back version of a bike, with a comfortable seat and pedals situated in front of the user rather than underneath as is more common. Very easy to use for people of all age and performance groups, the recumbent bike is sometimes regarded as a bad cardio machine but this isn't true - compared to many other machines in the gym or in your home, this one just gives the impression of being easier, but will still burn the same amount of calories and as you're so comfortable, you might even extend your workout! As well as this, your legs have to work harder to fight gravity as you're in a reclined position compared to an upright bike. All recumbent bikes come with adjustable seats and have resistance settings so that you are able to challenge yourself. The recumbent bike like a lot of cardio machines works mostly the lower body.

 A recumbent bike can burn up to 1000 calories per hour if used at a higher intensity.

Another great machine to use in the gym but also comes in handy at home! You can buy or rent a recumbent bike today.

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 Upright Bike

Horizon Focus 3 Upright Cycle

This type of bike mimics the sitting position you would be sat in whilst riding an actual bike. Compared to all the other variations of bike machines, the upright bike has the potential to burn the most calories as the better quality ones can be ridden while off the saddle (ie. standing on the pedals, not sitting). The upright bike allows you to set a resistance in order to make the exercise harder for you. Most upright bikes also allow you to set a program that slowly increases the resistance at intervals and others that increase the resistance to keep your heart at a high BPM. To get the most out of the upright bike, aim to set the resistance high enough so that you are breathing hard while at around 90 RPM (revolutions per minute). 

The upright bike - when used properly - can burn over 1,000 calories per hour, which makes it amongst the best fitness machines in the gym or your home! 

Another machine that you can now hire or even buy for your home. 

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Rowing Machine

Horizon Oxford IV Rower

The rowing machine is possibly one of the most underrated pieces of gym/fitness equipment. Look around next time you're in there and you'll probably see everything taken except for the rowers. But don't let that fool you into thinking they're useless. They can be difficult to master, but if you have a strong back, it's an excellent machine for making a fitness regime more challenging. Like the other machines in this list, it allows you to set resistance, and this enables you to get the most out of your workout. 

The rowing machine can burn upwards of 800 calories per hour, and elite rowers burn up to 1200! And not only does it burn a huge number of calories but it's also a complete, whole body workout! 

You can buy or rent a rowing machine for use at home

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Hand/Arm Cycle

Hand Cycle Machine

The Hand Cycle is essentially a bike that uses your arms rather than legs. It's not seen in many gyms but that doesn't mean it's not a crazily effective workout! The arm/hand cycle is essentially a cardio workout for anyone that may have sustained a recent injury to their legs (most cardio machines focus on the legs). Sitting on a comfortable seat with a supporting backrest, you use your arms to pedal the machine, and some models offer a dual movement for your legs, which is controlled by the arms. Again, you can set resistance in order to get your heart rate up and increase pressure on your cardiovascular system and create a great cardio workout.

Depending on the resistance and speed you're able to cope with, a hand cycle can see you burning upwards of 600 calories per hour.

You can now buy or rent an arm cycle for use at home.

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