Looking for a low-impact workout? Here are eight models to consider.
By Consumer Reports
When Consumer Reports first tested ellipticals back in 1999, we called them a waste of money. The two we tried out broke.
But since then, things have changed, and ellipticals have come quite a long way. We now have a number of recommended models with a variety of features, starting at $800 and topping out at $2,600.
An elliptical can be a nice addition to a home gym for anyone worried about stress on the joints. Exercising on an elliptical can be a good way to get an aerobic workout without the impact that comes with running, according to Peter Anzalone, a former senior test project leader for fitness equipment at CR—especially if you’re looking for a higher-intensity activity.
Unlike treadmills, ellipticals also allow for a built-in upper-body workout, and they’re usually quieter than treadmills, too.
If you're a first-time or casual user, you might consider models with preprogrammed routines, which eliminate guesswork and make it easy to get moving. If you already work out consistently or you're trading up from a basic model, consider which elliptical will best help you meet your specific fitness goals. Our buying guide can help you decide which features are right for you.
"While treadmills allow you to move free form, ellipticals constrain you to move the same as the machine," Anzalone said. "Pedal spacing and the elliptical path can be very different on different machines."
That means it's especially important to try any elliptical you're considering in a store to make sure you find it comfortable to use. You don't want to spend all that money for a piece of exercise equipment that will become an expensive, space-consuming clothes rack.
How We Test Ellipticals
Every elliptical machine that enters CR’s labs undergoes a battery of tests to assess whether it will give you a good workout without sacrificing ergonomic comfort or personal safety.
For our ergonomics testing, we use a figure proportioned to a man in the 95th percentile and a woman in the fifth percentile to evaluate comfort and reach for a wide range of users. We also measure the range of motion of the pedals and use an automated machine, which pedals the elliptical at a constant speed, to measure resistance. Our user-safety tests look at potential pinch points, pedal sizes, and coverings, as well as the design of the elliptical handles. If positioned poorly, the handles can cause accidental eye injuries.
Here are eight ellipticals at a range of prices that impressed our testers. Digital and All Access members can see our full elliptical ratings and reviews.
Maintaining Your Exercise Equipment
No matter what kind of exercise equipment you have, a little regular cleaning helps prevent germs from spreading, and keeps your machine in tip-top shape.
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