In an era where so many people are overworked and overscheduled, it is an unfortunate reality that healthy things like exercise sometimes get dropped from your schedule. In addition, in the case of the United States, our waistlines are expanding rapidly as levels of obesity keep rising.

One solution to this problem is a workout machine that has been around for less than 20 years. You can burn calories, tone muscles and make your cardiovascular system far more robust with a solid workout if you turn to elliptical machines. Making a choice can be difficult since there are so many on the market and they all have unique features, but the side-by-side comparisons can be helpful.

These ingenious devices give you both upper and lower body workouts, and you can get far more done in terms of improving your health with an elliptical trainer than most other exercise machines. Few of us have a full gym in the house, but an at-home elliptical machine can work core muscle groups and give you a great cardio workout in short order.

When you use an elliptical trainer, you move your legs in an oval fashion with your feet on movable pads. Meanwhile, your arms are busy moving large handlebars in sync with the foot movements. The oval movement and the fact that your feet are not coming down hard on any surfaces means you are getting a low-impact workout that is easy on the ankles, knees and lower back.

And the effort is well worth it because, besides the toning, calorie burning and cardio benefits, you also will get the benefits of a weight-bearing exercise session by using an elliptical. This is important for everyone, but especially for women who might be prone to osteoporosis. Weight-bearing aerobic exercise is one component in a multi-pronged approach recommended by doctors to avoid and treat this troubling illness.

Elliptical machines in general are not cheap, but if you really use a home elliptical, you ultimately will save money indirectly by improving your overall health and reducing your financial contribution to treat a variety of ailments caused by being overweight and sedentary.

In addition, there are few things more exhilarating than finally reaching a fitness goal, whether you are trying to trim away pounds or prepare for a marathon. With vigorous exercise, you look good, feel good, sleep well and generally enjoy life more than before.

Having your own exercise equipment at home also eliminates excuses for avoiding exercise. If it is winter and everything outside is coated with slick ice, no problem. If it is 110 degrees outside and you just cannot force yourself out into the heat to exercise, no problem. You can still get a great workout with your own elliptical in the dry, not-too-hot comfort of your own home.

Many elliptical trainers also are equipped with enjoyable accessories such as iPod docking stations, magazine racks, water bottle holders and more to make your exercising as pleasant as it can be, whether you hate to work up a sweat or whether you love to get moving.

Owning your own elliptical trainer can be a life-enhancing move that will produce benefits for years to come.

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