Firstly, we need to ask ourselves, "What is a weight bearing exercise?" Weight bearing exercises can be defined as any exercise where a person's bones work against gravity or other forms of resistance to support the body. The main purpose of the weight bearing exercise is to increase bone strength as well as density.
So when asking, “Is the elliptical a weight bearing exercise?” we can explain how weight bearing benefits are achieved through the pushing motion of both an individual's legs and arms via the pedals and handles, respectively. Placing greater stress on bones during workouts causes stimulation of osteoblast cells; these directly influence healthy bone growth.
Benefits of Weight Bearing Exercises
While promoting healthy bone growth is the primary goal of weight bearing exercises, it's not the sole benefit you'll experience during your workouts. You can also expect:
Heightened Metabolism: Individuals partaking in weight bearing exercises can expect to see an increased metabolic rate. This is achieved through the development of lean muscle mass that uses more calories than fat, letting you shed that extra weight faster.
Increased Neural Activity: Weight bearing exercises, especially weight training programs, have been linked to increased cognitive function through studies carried out at British Columbia University. They saw improvements in problem-solving, decision-making, and associative memory.
Overall Health and Fitness: Weight bearing exercises commonly influence our general health through increased fitness, stamina, and strength. These contribute to a healthy body allowing us to enjoy a fuller life.
It's important to look at the bigger picture when planning your workouts and take long-term benefits into consideration. The benefits provided through these types of exercises extend well into our everyday lives rewarding us as well as our loved ones.
Considerations When Using an Elliptical Machine
When including elliptical training in your workout regime, it's important to factor in some key components to get the most out of each session.
Posture: Maintaining the correct posture during your workout will keep the optimal level of pressure across your bones. The correct stance is achieved through an elevated breastbone as well as a reasonable space between your ribs and pelvis.
Maintain A Varied Workout: While an elliptical machine offers a full-body workout, it doesn't provide adequate pressure across all bones in the body. Utilizing various cardiovascular workouts and strength training programmes will deliver more rounded results.
Avoid Looking Down: This will not only compromise your posture but also your breathing and spinal integrity, as more pressure will be placed towards the front of your chest.
Other Examples of Weight Bearing Exercises
While the elliptical machine does offer weight bearing benefits, there is a range of other exercises that may offer more value for the time put in. Below is a brief list of some of the more popular exercises.
Strength and Resistance Training: This style of weight bearing exercise not only utilizes gravity but also adds additional stress to the bones through added weights or resistance bands.
These exercises can increase bone strength more significantly than cardiovascular workouts, but it is important to note they aren't safe if the improper form is used. Start off small and incrementally increase weight in order to reduce the chances of harm you may cause to yourself.
Dancing: We refer to fast pace dancing, such as the rumba or salsa, where individuals require rapid and explosive movements. Being a fun and invigorating cardiovascular weight bearing exercise, its downside comes with only working on your lower body. However, it's still a great way to spice up your workout regimen.
Yoga: While not placing emphasis on cardiovascular or strength development, Yoga is a direct means of increasing bone strength and density. It does so through a variety of poses that place targeted pressure on varying muscle and bone groups.
It's crucial to ensure the entire body is worked for all around bone growth. This is achieved through varied and specific workout plans.
The Weight Bearing Effects of an Elliptical Workout
In regards to elliptical weight bearing exercise, the bones in your lower body will benefit more than those in your upper body. This is due to elliptical machines offering a greater workout to the legs, as users will push each leg in a downward motion causing pressure from the hip down to the ball of your foot.
The upper body, however, relies solely on the handles where the user will both push and pull in a repetitive motion. Pressure to the bones is only seen through the pushing motion that is also aided through the movement of the lower body.
Although the user could solely work the elliptical machine through their upper body, this wouldn't be time effective as there are many upper body specific weight bearing exercises that would yield much greater results.
Osteoporosis and Weight Bearing Exercises
The International Osteoporosis Foundation helps to raise awareness of the real concerns of the disease as well as offers preventative tips to help reduce risk in later life. Osteoporosis is a disease occurring when the body loses too much bone density, resulting in serious injury from a fall or, in serious cases, a sneeze or minor bump.
Bone is living tissue that develops from birth to our late teenage years; however, bone thinning is a natural process that occurs in all of us, typically starting in our late twenties. In order to slow the effects of bone thinning and the chances of osteoporosis, you can partake in varying activities including weight bearing exercise.
It's also important to ensure a healthy intake of calcium and vitamin D, as well as have a nutritious diet. Making the most of these influences in childhood can drastically reduce the chance of developing osteoporosis later in life. A simple increase of 10% in peak bone mass during your younger years can reduce the chance of an osteoporosis fracture by 50%.
Professionals also highly recommend the avoidance of heavy drinking, secondhand smoking, and severe weight loss. Each of these can lead to accelerated bone loss placing individuals at greater risk.
Is the Elliptical a Weight Bearing Exercise: Final Thoughts
Elliptical machines are a viable weight bearing exercise that not only increases bone strength and density but also cardiovascular health. It is important to note that elliptical machines aren't the best all-around weight bearing exercise, as there are many higher impact exercises that will offer a greater reward for your time.
Treadmill and strength training workouts are extremely effective weight bearing exercises that offer greater benefit to your body and all around bone health.
It is important to note that you should include a variety of styles in your workout to achieve all-around good health while strengthening every aspect of your body. Never rely on a single training technique and always take outside factors into consideration as each style offers a range of other health benefits.