How to use glider exercise machines

Updated September 14, 2017

Air gliders are sometimes compared to low-end cross-trainers, but there are some significant differences. Instead of moving your feet through an elliptical path, air gliders allow you to swing your legs back and forth like pendulums, almost as if you were walking on the moon. Most air gliders are inexpensive, lightweight and compact--all advantages--but they may also be flimsy and, unlike most cross-trainers, offer very little choice in resistance levels. Once you develop a base level of fitness, you may find that your glider doesn’t offer you much of a challenge any more.


The National Health Service recommends that healthy adults do 30 minutes of moderate cardio, five days a week. You can use an air glider to meet some or all of that requirement.


Mount the glider, placing your feet in the pedals. Then swing your left leg forward and your right leg back. Then swing your right leg forward as your left leg moves back. Continue alternating back and forth, swinging your legs like opposing pendulums. With some gliders, you can modify the stride by bending your knees more or less as you swing your legs. Most gliders also have moving handlebars that you can push and pull to work your upper body, too.


Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise is something that raises your heart rate and causes you to break a sweat, but leaves you able to carry on a conversation. You'll probably be able to achieve this level of exertion on a glider, even if you're quite fit, by swinging your legs very fast. But you may have a hard time working up to a vigorous level of activity, which should make it hard to carry on a conversation more than a word or two at a time.


Most air gliders are very simple machines. With some you can adjust the resistance within a limited range of options by twisting a dial. With some versions you can add extra hydraulic resistance. But your resistance options are much more limited with a strider than on the typical exercise bike or cross-trainer.


Even though the glider is relatively small, light and inexpensive and may not supply an extremely vigorous workout, you should warm up and cool down before and after your workout. Stride relatively slowly for the first five to 10 minutes, giving your body a chance to adjust to the workout. Do the same thing in the last five to 10 minutes of the workout as your body slowly adapts back to a state of rest. Taking time to stretch your hip flexors, quads, hamstrings and calves after the warm-up helps prepare your body for exercise and reduce your risk of injury.

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