Best Ellipticals

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Looking to increase your aerobic exercise while avoiding the treadmill? Consider an elliptical. Long a mainstay of gyms and hotel fitness centers alike, the elliptical can be an excellent tool to get in a cardio workout while taking it easy on your joints. Often equipped with handles that get your arms pumping, ellipticals can offer a full-body workout. Some research even points to them being just as effective as treadmills as far as aerobic exercise is concerned (1). 

Regular cardio exercise can boost stamina and cardio capacity while helping to burn some calories. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends 150 minutes of weekly cardio exercise to increase heart health and keep off excess weight. If hitting the elliptical at the gym isn’t your vibe, you may consider getting one to use at home. However, with so many types on the market, how can you know which model best fits your specific needs?

Best Ellipticals

Methodology

Ellipticals are a very popular and effective means of cardio exercise. As such, there is a proliferation of them on the market. When deciding which piece of equipment is best for you, it’s important to keep in mind a few key features. 

Stride Length

Defined as the length between the two pedals when extended, stride length is very important in determining which machine to purchase. Most ellipticals you’ll find in gyms have stride lengths set at 20 inches. A shorter length may not be as comfortable for some folks. If possible, try to test out a few different lengths before buying an elliptical. 

Space

How much space do you have in your home fitness area can go a long way toward determining what kind of equipment you purchase. If you’re short on square footage, you’ll probably want to opt for something with a smaller footprint, or the ability to be folded up and stored away. 

Display

Pay attention to what information is counted and displayed on the screen. If you have very specific fitness goals that require keeping track of your pulse while exercising, you may opt for a machine with a built-in heart rate monitor. 

Weight Capacity

Different ellipticals can support different weights. Double check the specs on a specific model before clicking purchase. 

Price

As with any piece of fitness equipment, you’ll want to consider how much you intend on using it and weigh that against the price. If 30 minutes on the elliptical is going to be part of your daily regimen, it’s probably worth paying a little more for a higher quality machine. 

Programmed Workouts

If you’re the type of person who needs a preset workout to get the most out of a cardio machine, it may be worth investing in an elliptical that comes with a variety or programmed routines. 

BarBend Buying Tips

  • Consider your fitness goals before purchasing an elliptical. If you’re simply looking to work up a sweat a few times a week, a simpler model may do the trick. 
  • Before investing in an elliptical for your home gym, try to test one out a local gym or sporting goods store. 

Regular cardio exercise can have many benefits, including improved heart health and reduced health risks. If running or hitting the treadmill is not your cup of tea, using an elliptical may be a great way to increase your aerobic output while keeping some stress off your joints.

References

  1. Brown GA, Cook CM, Krueger RD, Heelan KA. Comparison of Energy Expenditure on a Treadmill vs. an Elliptical Device at a Self-Selected Exercise Intensity. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010;24(6):1643-1649.