The elliptical machine can provide an effective cardiovascular workout, helping you lose belly fat while improving heart health. This may be especially important for apple-shaped people, who carry more weight around the middle than pear-shaped folks. Harvard Medical School reports that a waist circumference of 35 inches or larger for women, or 40 inches or larger for men, may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease -- if this describes you, the elliptical is here to help.
The elliptical machine won't trim fat directly from your belly -- no exercise will -- but it does help you create a calorie deficit for allover fat loss, and your belly will grow smaller proportionately. Food intake is also vital for success, which is why the University of Minnesota Medical School recommends that for weight loss, women limit calories to 1,200 to 1,500 per day, and men limit calories to 1,800 to 2,000 per day, in addition to getting regular exercise. Typically, these combined efforts will lead to a deficit of about 1,000 calories per day, according to the university. One pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories per day, so you'll lose around 2 pounds each week.
Calorie Burning on the Elliptical
The American Council on Exercise performed a study on elliptical trainers and found that the average user burns about 8 to 9 calories per minute. This translates to 240 to 270 calories in 30 minutes, or 480 to 540 calories per hour. Your numbers will depend on your pedaling speed and resistance level, as well as your body composition -- the heavier you are, the more calories you'll burn. However, all four models tested resulted in similar calorie-burning effects, indicating consistency from machine to machine.
The elliptical machine, like other cardiovascular exercises, may help you burn more visceral fat than diet alone, according to medicine professor Kerry Stewart as quoted by "U.S. News and World Report." Visceral fat lies deeper than the subcutaneous fat you can pinch, surrounding abdominal organs and causing the ill health effects associated with a wide midsection. Stewart notes that cardio is among the most effective remedies for visceral fat, and may help even more than dietary changes.
For successful weight management, include elliptical training or other cardiovascular activity in your schedule 30 to 60 minutes per day, most days of the week. Maintain at least a moderate intensity level, during which you break a sweat and don't have enough breath to sing a song. If you're physically fit, aim for a vigorous intensity, during which you can't easily speak more than a few words. Don't rush into vigorous activity as a beginner, however, or else you may burn out quickly or even injure yourself. If you don't currently work out, see your doctor before starting an elliptical program.