All About Exercise Machines

How to find an exercise machine that suits you, and make the most out of any machine workout.

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Here you are, standing in a sea of cardiovascular equipment at the gym - rows upon rows of treadmills, elliptical machines, stair steppers, rowing machines, stationary bikes, and more.

So which one do you choose: The machine that is supposed to get you the most fit; the one that burns the most calories; or the device that has least impact on your joints?

These are all valid concerns -- but none of these is the most important question you should be asking yourself, says exercise physiologist Bryant A. Stamford. That question is: Which machine do you really want to use?

"When it comes to exercise and weight management, a good assumption is that if someone needs to exercise for weight management, they're probably pretty easily turned off by exercise," says Stamford, professor and chairman of the department of exercise science at Hanover College in Hanover, Ind. "The worst thing to do is to mold someone into something because people say it is the best."

So instead of choosing the treadmill for the calorie-burning factor, or the elliptical trainer your friend recommended, figure out which machine feels best to you, he suggests. "What is it going to take to get you compliant?" he asks. "Everything else is secondary."