It’s no secret that most of us spend entirely too much time sitting. Beginning when we wake up, we’re sitting in the car, sitting at our desks and in the break room at work, back to sitting in the car, sitting down to eat dinner, and finally sitting on the couch to watch TV. The gym should be our break from the monotony of sitting.
I’ve written before about how our posture is important and how we should work to change position and move more throughout the day. Sitting in one position, regardless of the position, is not how our bodies are meant to exist. We’re meant to move. Last week, we talked about movement. This week, let’s dive into cardio equipment and challenging our cardiovascular endurance.
Better posture starts with bodyweight movement, but what if we want to challenge our cardiovascular endurance? Of course, one option is to string together a series of bodyweight or weighted exercises into a circuit. Moving quickly through, we’re bound to challenge our cardio as well as strength. But if you are limited to a 30-minute lunch break, without time to change, you want to choose the machine that provides the most benefit. What machine should we choose?
Just as we choose a balance of strength training exercises, we should choose a variety here as well. Varying levels of impact and core involvement, making sure we’re changing up our usual sitting posture, as well as incorporating our upper and lower body.
The rower is one of the rare pieces of cardio equipment that totes a heavy emphasis on the upper body. In addition, it’s low impact, allows you to use your core, and move through a full range of motion as you use it. In spite of being seated, it’s truly the biggest bang for your buck and sometimes we skip right past it!
The recumbent bike is helpful in rehabilitation, easier on the lower back, is gentle on all joints, and is a generally safe choice for cardiovascular activity. If you’re recovering from an injury or in rehab, it might be common place to use the recumbent bike. However, just like there’s no one strength training exercise, the recumbent bike shouldn’t be the only equipment we use. It doesn’t break up that sitting posture, as many of the other machines do!
By simply walking on the treadmill or on the stairmaster, we’re engaging in a weight-bearing activity. There’s no seat to support our bodyweight. These weight-bearing activities, similar to strength training, support muscle strength and posture. It allows us to loosen our hips from sitting in a flexed position and break free from the back support of a chair. This forces us to use our core musculature as well!
The downfall with the treadmill or stairmaster is the impact. Stairs especially can be difficult on the knees. If you do want to reduce the impact on your joints but still change up that sitting posture, try an upright bike or elliptical! Both upright bikes and ellipticals reduce the impact, but still force you to engage your core. This is similar to the demands placed upon you in everyday life.
At the end of the day, the machine you choose depends on your specific situation, preferences, and the emphasis of your workout. The most important guideline to remember is just to mix it up!