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What are Ergometers?

Erin J. Hill
Erin J. Hill

Ergometer can refer to either a device that tests the exertion exhibited by certain muscles or one that keeps track of how much of a particular exercise has been done. It can also refer to certain exercise machines that allow someone to perform cardio exercises using the arms and legs while remaining in a stationary position. The commonly used stationary bike is one example. Many ergometers are wheelchair accessible, allowing those with disabilities to maintain cardiovascular health.

The benefits of using ergometers are much the same as with any cardio workout. Heart and lung capacity rises, providing a healthier resting heart rate. Bones and muscles are also benefited by toning leg and arm muscles while burning calories. Although not only intended for those with physical disabilities, the use of an ergometer is highly encouraged for those who are confined to a wheelchair or those who are not physically capable of performing more conventional workouts.


There are different types of ergometers on the market, some of which work the arms and legs at the same time. While the arms are in motion, the feet are placed in boots on the floor while they move in conjunction with the arms. Some stationary bikes allow users to pedal using the legs and move levers with the arms. Others allow users to work the arms or legs one at a time by either placing the machine on the floor or tabletop. Not all machines are appropriate for those with physical limitations, so anyone considering an ergometer workout should find one that works with whatever conditions exist.

As with any exercise program, a doctor should be consulted before using ergometers. This is especially true for those with certain heart or lung conditions, or those with physical limitations like joint problems or another debilitating illness. Tests may be performed to test cardio and lung strength in order to determine the best type of exercise equipment for each individual.

Those who do not have any preexisting limitations or conditions may choose to use ergometers to ease back into working out, or to combine with other exercises for a more thorough routine. The use of ergometers may provide added toning to the arms and legs when done in combination with strength training exercises and other cardio workouts. Machines may be purchased at sporting goods retailers or from specialized dealers.

The medical type of ergometer is used to measure how much energy a muscle or group of muscles is exhibiting. This lesser-known type of machine is important for determining how much strength a person’s muscles have in order to diagnose certain conditions or to monitor ones that are already known. To use this type of ergometer, it is necessary to visit a physician who specializes in muscular issues.

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