Nothing is worse than waking up after a day of hitting the gym to find that you're in pain. Joints, such as the hips and knees, are the most likely body parts to experience soreness and injury from cardiovascular exercise. Depending on whether you choose to work out on the elliptical or on the treadmill, your hips will experience different levels of impact and stress.
Ellipticals: Pros and Cons
The low-impact nature of the elliptical makes it less stressful on the knees, hips, and back than walking or running on the treadmill, according to Dr. Edward Laskowski of Mayoclinic.com. Because your feet are moving in a circular motion, rather than striking a hard surface, there is less impact on your hips. However, since the elliptical takes pressure off the hip joint, it doesn't work the hips -- meaning that, if you have weak hips, the elliptical does not help you strengthen them.
Treadmills: Pros and Cons
Treadmills are high-impact and don't have a lot of shock absorption, putting pressure on your joints, and especially on your hips. However, in a 2007 "Runner's World" article, Judi Ketteler points out that running --such as on the treadmill -- helps strengthen the ligaments that support the joints, improving their stability and making them less susceptible to injury. Running on the treadmill also exercises the cartilage in your hips, keeping it strong and healthy. This helps stave off the health problems brought on by weak cartilage, such as stiffness and even arthritis.
Reducing Stress on the Hips
To keep stress off of your knees and hips, exercise proper posture, regardless of what machine you choose. Your shoulders should be held back and your head kept up -- slouching or looking down at your feet could cause you to become off-balance. Keep your abs tight to engage your core muscles and avoid added pressure on the hips. If possible, use your machine on a flat setting to reduce stress on the hips, as your joints will not be working to move your body up an incline.
If you aren't used to aerobic exercise, start out at a low resistance and only exercise for 15 to 20 minutes until you feel comfortable with the workout. If you have a hip injury or a history of hip problems, even the elliptical might be too stressful for you. Ask your doctor before engaging in any new form of cardiovascular activity. Before working out, warm up with light aerobic activity. Begin and end your workout with stretching, especially focusing on body parts in which you tend to feel soreness -- foam rollers, for example, can be used to stretch the hips before working out.
Natasha Hochlowski holds a dual B.S. in chemistry and writing from Loyola University Maryland. She has been writing professionally since 2007, frequently contributing to "The Journal of Young Investigators," and has worked as a technical writer/editor for several major pharmaceutical companies.