No matter the time of year, summer or winter and every step in between, getting into shape and remaining fit should be a top priority no matter your age. The benefits far outweigh the work it takes to get yourself into better physical condition, and these benefits run the gamut from merely looking great in your swimsuit, to better self-confidence, better heart health, and the added benefit of having done your best to live a higher quality life. Before you hop onto a treadmill or pound the pavement or local track in a mad dash to become the fittest you have ever been, however, it is important you learn the benefits of total body workouts.

A total body workout is the best way to go, since you will have the opportunity to engage more of your body as you exercise. Running, conversely, is an exercise that is very hard on your joints. It may not seem like a very big deal at this point in your life, depending on your age, but the truth is that running has long-term effects on your joints, your ACL, and jolts your body in ways that it was not meant to be jolted. Some runners will probably read this and know precisely the detrimental effects of long-term running, others will read this and laugh because they are one of the lucky few who have not seen any of the long-term effects of running.

A quick jaunt to your local physical therapist or college football coach will have you singing a different tune, however. Running, though a healthy endeavor, is not a sustainable way of life of many people. If you want all the benefits of running without all of the potential detrimental effects, there are alternatives that will both keep you in great shape, and on the other hand will not cost you quality of life in the long run. There are many alternatives, in fact, but the majority of them will fall into the category of something like an elliptical trainer workout.

Swimming is one example of a total body workout that will be easier on your joints and overall health. The entire body is fully supported in the buoyancy effect of the water, and this is something that running cannot do. During running, your body is being "shocked" by the impact of the forceful steps, your knees, lower spine and ankles will take the brunt of the force. Over time, this wears down the joints, cartilage and can even result in a torn ACL. Another alternative to running, providing a total body workout, is using an elliptical machine.

An elliptical trainer workout is a great idea if you want to gain the benefits of running, and then add on top of that the safety of having your body fully supported, as well as being a low-impact, total body exercise. These net effects can ensure that you'll be in the best shape of your life without costing your future mobility or quality of life. The only problem with most elliptical machines on the market is how their usefulness is short-lived.

The biggest problem with most elliptical trainers available is how your body will soon adjust to the workout, even if you have a model that can adjust in stride and that can offer an adjustment in resistance (usually through magnetic or hydraulic resistance). The human body will quickly adapt to your workout, unless you have a system of introducing what is called "muscle confusion." If you could find an elliptical trainer that maximized this effect, and you could exploit the adjustments in order to keep the viability of your total body workouts, then you would have found a perfect alternative to the harshness of jogging or running, all the while getting into the best shape of your life without leaving your home.