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The Awesome Outdoor Workout You'll Get on an Elliptical Bike

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The elliptical has been a staple in just about every major gym throughout the country since the 90s, but is there room—or good reason—to take this popular piece of cardio equipment outdoors on the open road? (You could try the No-Child's Play Playground Workout if you're heading outside!) Well, five years ago, the ElliptiGO—a two-wheeled piece of equipment similar to its stationary counterpart, the elliptical—hit the market with a mission in mind: to enable exercisers to reap the benefits of a joint-friendly fitness experience that blends elements of cycling, running, and the elliptical while enjoying the beauty and fresh air of the great outdoors. And just recently, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a study to find out just how effective of a workout this outdoor elliptical produced.

But first, how exactly, does the machine work? You use the ElliptiGO outdoors just like a bicycle. And much like a bike, this somewhat odd-looking piece of fitness equipment offers the ability to change gears, break, climb hills, and reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

And while it may look super goofy, ElliptiGO's are actually sold around the world and even used in races such as the Death Ride—a 129-mile cycling event at altitudes as high at 9000 feet (who knew?!). Plus, proponents say the smooth, comfortable, and upright ride feels almost as if you're running on air, all while sparing your joints from the high-impact ground reaction forces associated with jogging and running.

But popularity aside, what's the effectiveness? Before recently, the jury was still out. That's why ACE enlisted the help of John Pocari, Ph.D., and his research team at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse to assess the benefits. And during a 30-minute workout on the ElliptiGO, people in the study met the fitness industry guidelines for improving cardiorespiratory and body composition—reaching an average of 84 percent of their maximum heart rate and 75 percent VO max (or maximum volume of oxygen an athlete can use). Ladies in the study also burned an average of 356 calories. Not bad for 30 minutes! The current guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) indicate that in order to manage or lose weight, 200 to 300 calories should be expended per exercise session, a range everyone in the study exceeded.

Another bonus: The researchers noted just how much fun people had using the machine. So all in all, we're saying why not give it a go if you get a chance this summer. There's just one problem: It's price tag is just as steep as one would expect from an indoor elliptical cross-trainer: between $1799 and $3499.

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