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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.

Which machine do you really want to use? 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. Nashville exercise physiologist Kathy Alexander agrees: But how do you know which machine is likely to feel right to you?

Here's what you can expect from the most popular cardio machines out there, along with some tips on getting the most out of your workout. Here's the lowdown on what you can expect from some of the machines you're likely to find at your local gym.

The treadmill burns the most calories of any of the cardiovascular machines available at most gyms, says Alexander. You can expect to burn about calories per mile, walking briskly. Stamford notes that a treadmill can be adapted to many different fitness levels by increasing the speed from walking to running or by adjusting the incline. But even walking may be too much for someone who is overweight and has joint pain.

Every time your foot hits the ground, says Alexander, "the impact forces are 3. Since a treadmill is moving under you, the impact may be slightly less than that. One more thing to keep in mind: Treadmills can pose a real balance challenge for new exercisers or those who haven't worked out in a while, says Matthew Vukovich, exercise physiologist and associate professor at South Dakota State University. These machines pack a little less punch on the joints, and either can be a good alternative to the treadmill, says Vukovich.

I did NS about 4 years ago lost almost This past July was told my chloerstral and blood pressure was too high for 28 year old.

So black Friday I ordered when prices decreased. Hi Amanda — Thanks for visiting and reading my story. Hope it goes as well this time around.

Thanks for sharing your superb review. You have a lot of good info here. I am looking for a diet to try just after the new year, and this might be the one. Either way, appreciate all of the details you shared. Thanks, just what I was looking for. I have about 20 pounds to lose — is this doable in a month or two? Hi Sam — Thanks for the positive feedback. Losing 20 pounds is definitely doable with Nutrisystem, but I would budget at least two months.

I signed up for Nutrisystem this week, and I am really hoping that I have the same results. I think my first shipment should arrive just before Christmas, so think I will get started right after the holiday. Thanks so much for the review — definitely gives me hope! Hi Kris — congrats on signing up — while results will vary for everyone, I truly believe that you will lose a lot of weight if you follow the program — so stick with it, and let us know how it goes.

They try to rip you off when quit their auto delivery program. Very very unpleasant people to deal with. They shipped me stuff 3 days after I had already cancelled and had a confirmation number stating I cancelled. They refused to turn the shipment around or to take it back and are trying to create some kind of lie that I created a 2nd account in November and they only cancelled one account.

The only thing I did in November was update my credit card expiration date which I regret. If I guaranteed no more shipments are coming to my name or my address that should be the end of the story, not with them! I am fighting them through my credit card company but please be aware of whatever traps they have in store for any of you.

Hi Troy — Sorry to hear that that was your experience. It was actually a customer service rep who told me I could switch from the meal delivery to just the Turbo Shakes after my first month on the program to lock in the auto-delivery savings without having to commit to another month of food.

In any case, I hope you are able to get things resolved! I started the program today, January 1st. My resolution is to feel better about myself, but do it in a healthy way that had structure. How much and when I should be eating vegetables, and ideas on what to eat if you have to attend a social function or business based meeting that involves food.

Thanks for posting a well written, and information overview of this program. I have three questions and maybe one is a question for a NS counselor… 1. Or can tomatoes, cukes, etc. Also, plain or with some sort of dressing? How many turbo shakes can you have per week… and when can they be consumed?

Thanks in advance …. Hi Tami — Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I always add extra veggies to my greens and have found the only thing you really need to watch out for is the salad dressing. But for me, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. I usually have my TurboShake midday — around 2: That said, I would definitely suggest using the Nutrisystem counseling service for full clarification, though — especially for questions 2 and 3.

Best of luck if you decide to try the full program! I wanted to say that this article is nicely written and included almost all the vital info I needed. Thanks for the review. I second your recommendation for Nutrisystem. Their service helped me significantly a few years ago. Hoping for the same results! Hi Maria — thanks for commenting! Hope it goes well again if you decide to give it another try. Have you found that Nutrisystem is a good way for keeping the weight off over the long term?

How long do you really have to be on Nutrisystem before you starting seeing results? Just finished month 1 and lost about 9 pounds! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He was always trying new weight loss products. I will forward this page to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing! I just read this well written post. I have a handicapped daughter who has gained so much weight. We have tried everything with very little success.

After taking to her doctors we decided to give NS a try. She started the program on February 16, She is loving the food and the program. She has already dropped three pounds. Her beginning weight was So she has a long way to go. But the support and your post will definitely help her obtain her goals for healthier lifestyle. We will keep you informed on her progress. Thank you so much. Hi Shirley — What an inspirational story — really hoping she has success!

Thanks for keeping us posted, and wishing your daughter all the best. I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!! I have been on Nutrisystem for about 5 weeks now. I lost 15 pounds the first month and have been following it to a T.

The food tastes fine and it is very easy to just grab something pop it in the microwave if necessary and go. I have been using My Fitness Pal to track my food and am eating about calories a day.

The first week was really tough and I had a hard time, but I stuck to it. Now I m satisfied and use to it. Planning on finishing up the second month and then on the 3rd month working in more home cooked meals and tracking to stay at the same calorie level. Then will switch over to the auto ship of Turbo shakes for my 4th month. I have about 40 pounds to lose and feel like I am making some good headway with the Nutrisystem plan. Good job on the review, very well written.

Wow, nice job Carolyn! Thanks for sharing your story, and best of luck with the rest of your diet. I was very happy to find this website. Just wanted to thank for your time for this wonderful read, and inspirational review!!

Hi Kelly — sorry to hear that! Have you tried connecting with the Nutrisystem counseling service? We had to take Nutrisystem program for 8 weeks because we got it at a discount thru our insurance company. My goal was to loose 30 lbs. At the end of the 8 weeks I had lost only 3 lbs.

We did not care for the cardboard like food and did not get anywhere close to our goals. This program obviously works for lots of folks, but not for us. We did go to the Naturally Slim program and in 8 weeks I lost Naturally Slim is based on not what you eat but when and how you eat and you eat your own real food and got real results. We will stay with our new habits learned with Naturally Slim and will not have any good words from our Nutrisystem experience.

Hi John — thanks for sharing your experience. Thanks so much for sharing your story. It was encouraging and helpful. I am only on my second day of Lean 13 and after comparing the Turbo Shakes with the protein powder I was using before, I noticed that mine was lower in calories, fat, sugar, and carbs and higher in protein by quite a lot. Thanks again for your review! Hi Peggy — I think you should be fine using your own protein shake. Just to be safe you may want to talk to a Nutrisystem counselor, and they can let you know for sure.

The biggest issue would probably be the calorie count of your shake vs. Best of luck with your two weeks. I made some raspberry coffee and chilled it. Thought that might be a nice tip for someone else. Just finished day 1 of the Turbo Takeoff… I was down 2 lbs this morning!!! Yay… only 58 more lbs to go!!! I am so determined and my mind is in the right place to really do this, this time.. I am very excited for the results.. I know i will be on the program for a few months but, I really feel like I need the structure of this program right now.

I have been feeling a lot of emotions from having gone through breast cancer and several surgeries the last 3 years… I just kinda let myself go… but, I am so ready for this change!!! Thanks for sharing, Lynn! So depending on other factors, you can start to see small results within a week and more major changes within a month. If you do the same workout over and over, the body adapts to it.

So even if your primary mode of cardio exercise is the elliptical, you'll want to beat the boredom and the workout plateaus by incorporating some of these other machines and cardio options into your routine. Here are the pros and cons of each of the alternatives. As another low-impact cardio machine, the stationary bike also allows you to sit while you workout, helping you maintain your balance and making it ideal for those with joint or back pain.

But while you can adjust the resistance, you can't adjust incline or use the handle bars as you would in an elliptical. Taking your bike outdoors has the advantage of real-world challenges that you can't control like you do at the gym. There are hills and obstacles to take on, plus you have the added core stability challenge to make sure you stay on the bike.

And overall, cycling is fairly low-impact. But again, beginners or those with joint issues should favor the elliptical, at least at first.

Though the elliptical is great for beginners because your body weight is fully supported by the machine, the treadmill has the potential to scorch more calories for advanced runners, depending on your speed and incline. Seasoned runners will likely favor the treadmill, only mixing in the elliptical for cross-training.

And because your body weight isn't supported on a treadmill, you'll get a higher-impact workout and build more bone density. However, the treadmill is solely a lower-body workout, while the elliptical features an upper-body component. Those who want a full-body cardio workout or those with joint issues should opt for the elliptical. While the elliptical does mimic some of the movements of running in a more low-impact manner, running outdoors gives your muscles especially your glutes, quads and calves more of a challenge, as you're not plodding along on a machine.

Plus, it means you're not tied to the gym. Unfortunately, it can be taxing on your ankles, knees and hips, so if you have injuries or weaknesses in any of these areas, stick to the elliptical.

As long as you don't lean too heavily on the hand rails of the stair stepper, this machine can provide a great lower-body workout, targeting the glutes and quads even more than the elliptical. But like most other cardio options, the elliptical is still your best bet for the lowest-impact workout. But if your goal is fat loss, the question isn't which machine will work best, it's which machine you'll work best on. Pick the option that you feel you can do the most fat-burning intervals on.

Or see below for fat-burning elliptical workouts.

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