It's almost impossible to turn on late-night TV without being exposed to yet another exercise machine. Some may be good, but probably most you would be better off avoiding. The problem with most of these machines is that they concentrate on one part of your body - usually the abs.
Unfortunately, most of us will never have 6-pack abs, and we should be more interested in getting healthy and staying that way. Enter the elliptical exercise machine; also known as the elliptical trainer or cross trainer. At first look it appears somewhat like a treadmill. However, it is much more than a treadmill.
Treadmills are a decent form of exercise, even good in that they provide a good cardiovascular workout. A good cardio workout is something that most of us will benefit from the most. The key is, to get your heart rate up and keep it there during the routine. A treadmill is good in that regard. An elliptical trainer offers more though.
Whether walking or running on a treadmill, you're obviously getting the heart rate up, burning calories and working the legs and muscles in the lower part of your body. Unfortunately, your arms are pretty much idle. When using an elliptical trainer you're also working the arms and upper body. An elliptical trainer actually works most major muscles in the entire body.
The benefits don't stop there either. One major problem with jogging, whether on a treadmill or through your local park is the high-impact the body takes, mainly the joints. The constant pounding is very hard on the joints, especially the knees. The design of the elliptical trainer is such that the legs move in a continuous, fluid motion, much like riding a bicycle and never come to that abrupt stop, like when running. I have noticed one certain model treadmill that is being advertised on TV specifically says that it is lower-impact, but it looks to be pretty much the same as most other treadmills.
The bottom line is, you can purchase a good quality elliptical exercise machine for about what a good quality treadmill will cost. Most of the comparatively priced machines have many of the same programmable functions, and bells and whistles. If I'm going to spend the money on a piece of fitness gear that I plan on being able to use for years, I want one that offers the most benefit. An elliptical trainer will offer a very good cardiovascular workout, work nearly every major muscle group in the body, is an excellent way to burn calories and lose weight, and won't be doing damage to your joints in the process.