Written by: Robert Agne, Personal Trainer @ O2 Fitness Falconbridge
Cardiovascular exercise is a significant portion of a workout routine for health and wellness. There are many options to choose from, such as running and climbing stairs, but if you have experienced or are susceptible to joint injuries and soreness or if you are beginning a new exercise program (with or without joint problems), those cardio activities may not be appropriate for your fitness level and your options may be limited.
Fortunately, there is an excellent piece of equipment at O2 that offers similar training effects to running and stair climbing. It's the Cybex Arc Trainer. Similar to the elliptical, this machine features a gliding motion to take stress and impact off of the lower-body joints. This makes it ideal for someone with joint problems, for a beginner needing an effective cardio routine, or for a conditioned athlete who needs an indoor alternative in inclement weather.
There are two settings to pay attention to on the arc trainer. The first, on the lower left of the display, is the Incline. The default setting keeps the "arc" relatively flat. Try adjusting it up a few notches and notice how it lifts your knees higher, as if you were climbing stairs. Then note the Resistance on the lower right of the display. Tap the "+" button a few times on this side and notice how the workout suddenly feels more challenging. If you've ever run on the beach, or played sand volleyball, you know it takes much more effort to propel your body out of the sand. Now we are simulating that effect on the Arc Trainer! Without needing to rinse off the feet later!
Finally, take note of the heart-rate sensors on the handles of the machine. Lightly gripping these silver sensors for a few seconds will allow the machine to provide a reasonable estimate of your effort. Your ideal heart-rate training zone is going to vary based on your fitness level and your goals, so consult with a personal trainer to determine an effective exercise heart rate. A trainer can also recommend a pace for you in strides per minute so that you are getting the most out of your workouts.
The Cybex Arc Trainer is a great machine to add variety to your cardio workouts and is highly recommended for all exercisers, including beginners and those with lower-body joint problems.