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Fitness Tip : Best Cardio Machine

Q. Is there a difference between doing the treadmill, the elliptical trainer and the stair-climbing machine at the gym? Is one machine better than the others?

A: They're all great machines that will help burn fat and calories. The treadmill is versatile, allowing you to walk or run on a flat or inclined surface. I like to do 30-minute interval sessions on the treadmill: I warm up with a five-minute walk, run for a couple minutes, go back to walking, then switch to uphill walking on the incline, then go back to flat walking, then jog again. It makes the workout more interesting and challenging.

The elliptical is great for working thighs and, if you also use your upper body, gives you a good overall cardio workout. It's also easy on your joints, especially compared with treadmill running, which can be hard on your knees. Finally, the stair-climbing machine is great for reshaping the butt and thighs, and for that reason, I recommend using it at least once a week.

I'm a big believer in switching up your workouts and not sticking to just one machine. (I know for a fact that President George W. Bush changes it up between the treadmill and the elliptical!) If you work out at least three days a week, I'd suggest doing the treadmill one day, the elliptical the second day and the stair-climbing machine on the third. Another option is switching machines within the same workout session and doing 10 minutes on each. The fact is that if you do only one machine every single time you work out, you're working the exact same muscles. By working different muscles in different ways on different machines, you keep your body guessing, and that's one great way to boost your metabolism and get real results. Variety is truly the key to a stronger, healthier body.

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