cardio Not All Cardio is the Same: Choosing the Right Machine

The gym can be really intimidating if you’re new to exercising. Even online sources and fitness accounts might have confusing terms. However, we created a beginner’s guide to working out to help navigate the beginning of your fitness journey. Today’s blog is focused on common cardio machines because cardio machines aren’t a one size fits all. There are pros and cons to each that make them better suited for certain populations. Let’s dive in and find the right machine for you!


The bike is a great place to start if you’re new to cardio. It provides a low-impact workout that will increase cardiovascular fitness without putting much stress on the joints. This can be used for someone with joint pain, such as arthritis or someone recovering from an injury. Even with little impact, strengthening can still occur by dialing up the resistance. However, one limitation of the bike is that riding it will not strengthen the bones of the leg because it is non-weight bearing. For someone with osteopenia or osteoporosis, the bike is not the best option.

  1. Recumbent bike- this bike is the only bike with back support, which makes it ideal for someone with a history of back pain. It helps the rider maintain proper posture and requires less stabilization.

    Recumbent bike |

  2. Upright bike- the upright bike requires more core stabilization than the recumbent bike because there is no back support. However, this bike is still low impact and a great option to get in some cardio!

    Upright bike |

  3. Spin bike- this bike is designed to simulate riding on the road, even having a flywheel that feels like peddling an actual bike. It has handlebars that are close to seat height that promote leaning forward while riding. It allow for standing and usually has a smaller seat than the upright bike. It has a knob for resistance that can be easily and quickly changed to mimic different types of roads.

    Spin bike |

  4. AirDyne- this is the most challenging bike. The effort directly creates the resistance of the bike. The faster the pedals go, the more resistance on the bike and the amount of resistance is infinite. Unlike any of the other bike, the AirDyne has moving handles that are designed to engage the upper body. The bike can be controlled by the handles, the pedals or both. This is the only bike that allows for a full body work out.

    Airdyne bike |


The elliptical is almost a cross between the bike and the treadmill. It mimics walking and running, but with less stress on the joints. It is more weight bearing than the bike, but less than the treadmill. This means the elliptical can be used for those with osteopenia and osteoporosis. The elliptical has the option of a full body work out with moving handles, like the Airdyne bike. However, some find it awkward and would prefer to run on the treadmill.

Elliptical |


Many of us have tried a treadmill at least once. The treadmill is a relatively easy machine to use and is fully weight bearing. The treadmill is a great tool because it is allows walking or running without tripping hazards like pot holes, curbs and uneven surfaces. It allows you to adjust incline and speed so you know exactly how fast you’re walking, unlike walking outside. It’s a great tool to train, but you might not want to start on it if you have arthritis or other joint pain because of the impact.

  1. Motorized treadmill- this is the treadmill most people are familiar with and most often seen in the gym. It is electric and usually preferred for longer workouts.

    Motorized treadmill |

  2. Manual treadmill- the manual treadmill is a new sub-category of treadmills. You have to start walking or running to get the belt to move and you control the speed with how fast you go. They come flat or curved. They are often preferred for high intensity workouts because they slow down when you do.

    Manual treadmill |

Stair Mill

The stair mill or stair stepper is essentially just a revolving staircase. You can adjust how fast the stairs revolve by changing the level. This exercise machine is weight-bearing and can be hard on the joints. However, it’ll strength the legs, increase heart health and improve balance (if you don’t hold on to the handles).

Stair mill |

Happy exercising! 

After learning all about cardio machines, check out the benefits of cardio! You can also find some tips on creating a workout plan here. If you would like to learn more give us a call today! New Jersey has direct access which means you can come see us without seeing your doctor! We can see you quicker than you could get in to see the doctor, while also saving you both time and money!