Monday, July 14, 2008

Safety on Cardiovascular Equipment

By Courtney Westlake


Note: This is part one of a series where we focus on safety and proper form while exercising.

If you're not very familiar with a piece of exercise equipment, it may not seem obvious how to use it, and many people may be incorrectly using machines or performing exercises. This means they are not getting the maximum workout for their time, not to mention risking injury.

Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC, pointed out the correct form and function of several cardiovascular pieces of equipment housed at the TRAC.

The treadmill is a highly popular cardio machine, Jillson said. When using the treadmill, ensure that you walk or run upright, without leaning too far forward or backward.

You can place your hands at several different places when using a treadmill, Jillson said.

"The first that I recommend is walking without using hand grips," she said. "Pump your arms in 90 degree fashion, which is going to burn more calories and give you a more effective workout."

All of TRAC's treadmills have heart monitors, Jillson said, so you can put hands around them to get your heart rate at any time during your workout. However, you don't want to hold the heart monitors the entire workout.

The sci fit ergometer, in the lower level workout space at the TRAC, is an upper body cardiovascular machine. The most important thing to remember about this piece of equipment is to put the seat at the correct level for your body so that the arms of the machine are aligned with your shoulders.

Recumbent bikes are another popular cardio machine and fairly self-explanatory. Simply lean back in the seat and place your hands on the side grips while pedaling.

"Make sure you get almost full extension in your pedal," Jillson advised.

The TRAC also offers a new cross trainer. The cross trainer has two different hand grips, so you can utilize the grips either on the moving arms or stationary handles. Again, be sure to exercise with a good posture when using the cross trainer.

And finally, several step mills are located in the upper workout area.

"When the mill starts to turn, you want to lightly touch on the handles. Make sure the top of your foot pad is going right up like you are going up the stairs," Jillson said. "You don't want to lean over on the machine because then you're taking a lot of weight off of your legs. This machine is primarily working the lower body, so you don't want to take away from that."

In knowing how to use the cardio equipment, it will only enhance your workouts and benefit your body to the fullest.

"For most of the machines, proper form includes standing upright and lightly touching the hand grips. Make sure you have good form and good posture," Jillson said. "Most of the cardiovascular machines are using your lower body, so take that pressure off your upper body and use your legs. Get that heart rate going and burn the calories that you need to burn."