Cardio Blast- A Guide to the Best Cardio Machines for Home
Whether your goal is getting shredded or packing on muscle, cardio plays a key role in achieving it. But beyond aesthetics, aerobic activity can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Like helping keep cardiovascular diseases at bay and helping improve your sleep.
Cardio machines are one of the most convenient ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness from home. After all, you can’t use the rainy weather as an excuse when you have a treadmill down the hall.
But if finding the right cardio machine for your home gym makes your heart race (and not in a good way), don’t worry. In this guide, we’ll explore the four top cardio machine categories–treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes, and rowers–to help you decide which is right for you while highlighting the importance of including cardiovascular activity in your fitness routine.
What is Cardiovascular Endurance?
Cardiovascular endurance–AKA cardiovascular fitness–is how well your body can pump oxygen-rich blood through your body to sustain your muscles during intense activity. Your cardio fitness determines how long you can do a repetitive physical activity, like jogging or cycling, without becoming fatigued.
Can you run a whole 5K without stopping or feeling winded? If so, your cardiovascular endurance is high. If you have to stop every 10 minutes to catch your breath and soothe the stitches in your side, your cardiovascular fitness likely needs some work.
Why is Cardiovascular Activity Important?
In 2020, cardiovascular diseases were the second leading cause of death in Canada. And with 90% of Canadians still suffering from poor cardiovascular health, incorporating cardiovascular activity into your fitness routine is more important than ever to live a long, healthy life. Here are some of the biggest benefits of adding aerobic activity to your weekly workouts.
Improves Heart Health and Reduces the Risk of Disease
Just like you train your legs and back in the gym, you can also train your heart. And when you challenge your heart with aerobic exercises, you train it to have the strength to pump blood more efficiently. Plus, studies show that regular cardio exercise can help lower your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.
Helps You Sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, cardio can help. A sleep study done on participants who experience chronic sleep issues found that regular exercise and proper sleep hygiene are a successful combo for insomnia sufferers. Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, like running, rowing, or biking.
Aids In Weight Management
It’s no secret that cardio can help you burn serious calories. It also helps increase your metabolic rate which can help prevent weight-related health issues like obesity. The intensity and duration of the cardio workout will determine the exact number of calories you burn, but here are some different methods of cardio with calorie estimates for reference:
Biking: 295 calories/30 minutes
Walking: 140 calories/30 minutes at a moderate pace
Swimming: 255 calories/30 minutes
Running: 295 calories/30 minutes
What Are the Best Cardio Machines to Have In Your Home Gym?
You know how important cardiovascular activity is for your overall health and fitness. And cardio machines offer you a convenient way to improve your aerobic fitness, rain or shine. Here are some of the best cardio machines to have in your home gym to help you stay consistent on your journey to optimal lung and heart health.
- Beginners who are new to exercise
- If you’re training for a race
- If you enjoy steady-state cardio
Description: did you know that running is Canada’s #1 recreational sport? But with Raincover…sorry, Vancouver having an average of 166 rainy days per year, relying on the great outdoors for your running routine can be tricky. Treadmills offer a reliable way to get your steps in any time of the year. And features like interactive programs, screencasting, and heart rate monitoring help keep you engaged and entertained during your workout.
Avoid if: you suffer from joint issues. Running is a high-impact activity, but walking on the cushioned belt of a treadmill is a suitable alternative.
Product Recommendations: if you’re looking for a commercial-grade machine with all the bells and whistles to support you during marathon training, check out the LifeSpan TR7000iM. If you’re new to exercise or short on floorspace, the LifeSpan TR1200i Folding treadmill is perfect for you.
Sample Treadmill Workout Routine: the viral “12-3-30” treadmill workout is great for beginners to advanced athletes and targets your entire posterior chain. Start by setting the treadmill at a 12% incline, the speed at 3 MPH, and walk for 30 minutes (without holding on). Your glutes and hamstrings will be burning by the end!
- Low-impact activity if you have joint issues
- A full-body workout
- Rehabbing an injury
Description: ellipticals, sometimes known as cross-trainers, are a great way to get your whole body moving without stressing your joints. The movement mimics running, but attached handles bring your shoulders and arms into the workout. Ellipticals offer different methods of adjustable resistance depending on the type of flywheel (air, magnetic). And they often feature interactive programs, workout tracking, and heart rate monitoring.
Avoid if: you’re looking for a super intense workout– standard ellipticals aren’t always the best choice. Although, there are some cross-trainer models built for HIIT workouts that feature higher resistance, like our example below.
Product Recommendations: if you’re trying to achieve high-intensity, high-calorie burning exercise from your elliptical, check out the innovative Octane Max Trainer cross-trainer. For a low-impact, no-fuss, no-electricity-needed elliptical, take a look at the LifeSpan E5i.
Sample Elliptical Workout Routine: start with a 20-minute routine. Minutes 1-5 are your warmup at a low-resistance level. At minute 6, start 2 minutes of a heavy push with high resistance. At minute 8, lower the resistance to a moderate level for a 3-minute recovery period. Continue this 2 minutes on, 3 minutes off until you reach 20 minutes.
- All workout intensities
- Knee rehab
- Cyclists or athletes focused on lower-body fitness
Description: exercise bikes come in several variations, including upright, recumbent, air, and spinning options. They are a great non-weight-bearing activity for those who suffer from joint issues. Biking is a great compliment to running exercises because it helps flush lactic acid from your legs, which causes muscle soreness. They’re also one of the most compact options for cardio machines and are ideal for small home gyms. You can often connect bikes with Bluetooth capabilities to popular spinning classes and apps like Zwift or Strava.
Avoid if: you suffer from back pain because certain bike styles might not be as comfortable. If sitting is painful for you, opt for a recumbent bike with lower-back support.
Product Recommendations: a top seller found in commercial gyms and home gyms worldwide, the Keiser M3i Indoor Spin Bike bike has everything you need for a killer spin workout. If you want something that won’t cause back or knee pain, the LifeSpan R5i Recumbent Bike is the perfect low-impact pick.
Sample Exercise Bike Workout Routine: exercise bikes are great for interval training. After a brisk 5-minute warmup, start to increase the resistance so that you can sprint at a comfortable pace. Start your interval cycle of 30 seconds of a hard sprint, 30 seconds of a medium sprint, and 60 seconds of a recovery sprint at an easy pace. Repeat this interval cycle five times before finishing with a 5-minute cooldown at a lower resistance.
- A higher-intensity total-body workout
- Burning a high amount of calories in a short window
- Strength building
Description: rowing machines–sometimes called an “erg” for short–are the ultimate full-body cardio workout. Their design mimics rowing on the water, and every stroke tests your arms, legs, back, and core. In fact, a single rowing stroke can work up to 84% of the muscles in your body. It’s the perfect combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, allowing you to work on your heart health and muscular strength simultaneously. Rowers offer 4 different types of resistance: air, water, magnetic, and hydraulic pistons. Features include adjustable (sometimes infinite) resistance, workout tracking, and space-saving storage options.
Avoid if: you experience lower back pain when bending over or struggle to get into a low-seated position (the rowing starting position).
Product Recommendations: if you want the ‘Peleton of rowers’, with interactive workout classes, an immersive touchscreen, and silent magnetic resistance, then the Hydrow Rower is for you. If you want a hassle-free, tried-and-true rowing machine that’s trusted by Olympic athletes worldwide, check out the Concept2 RowErg.
Sample Rowing Workout Routine: rowers are perfect for Tabatas. For a quick-and-dirty 20-minute HIIT workout, try this: warm up for 5 minutes. Then, for 10 minutes, alternate with 40 seconds of all-out rowing followed by 20 seconds of easy recovery rowing. Finish with a 5-minute cooldown row.
Find a Cardio Machine to Get Fitter at Home
Cardio activities do more than help you shed a couple of pounds. They help your heart beat better, your lungs breathe easier, and they can help you live a longer, healthier life. The flexibility and convenience of home-based cardio machines have made it easier than ever to incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily fitness routine.
Whether it’s a treadmill for rainy day training, an elliptical for joint-friendly workouts, or a robust full-body rowing session, there’s a cardio machine for every training style. Check out our curated collection of cardio equipment to find what gets your heart pumpin’!
 The Health Benefits of Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness | British Columbia Medical Journal. https://bcmj.org/articles/health-benefits-physical-activity-and-cardiorespiratory-fitness. Accessed 11 Aug. 2023.
 Reid, Kathryn J., et al. “Aerobic Exercise Improves Self-Reported Sleep and Quality of Life in Older Adults with Insomnia.” Sleep Medicine, vol. 11, no. 9, Oct. 2010, pp. 934–40. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2010.04.014.