Choosing the Right Exercise Machine

Article excerpt

The value of an exercise program often has as much to do with personal preferences as physical ability. Most researchers agree that caloric expenditure is the key criterion for judging the merits of any given exercise regimen. But how do factors such as one's choice of exercise machine and exertion level influence the effectiveness of one's workout and one's ability to stick with that workout? A recent study by researchers at Dublin City University (DCU) may help activity providers determine what sort of machine workout burns calories most effectively while simultaneously encouraging adherence.

As reported in the August 2001 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the DCU study involved 19 healthy men and women, all in their twenties. The participants were put through a series of exercise tests on six popular types of machine: a rower, a cross-country ski simulator, a stair-stepper, a treadmill, a recumbent stationary bike, and a regular stationary bike. After establishing the performance maximums for each participant on each machine, the researchers conducted several submaximal tests in which the subjects were asked to exercise at three levels of perceived exertion: fairly light, somewhat hard, and hard. Factors such as heart rate, oxygen uptake, and blood lactate concentration were measured during each test. The researchers found that caloric expenditure differed significantly from machine to machine, with both male and female subjects burning more energy on the treadmill and ski simulator than on any other machine (the rower was equally effective for the women). …