Consumer Report: Best Elliptical Exercisers

By: Lauren Evans Email
By: Lauren Evans Email

When it comes to exercise, experts say you should do at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. But only 40 percent of adults do. Maybe an elliptical machine could help. It gives you a good workout and is easy on your joints. Consumer Reports just tested dozens.

What’s the best elliptical exerciser for you? Consumer Reports tested 31, ranging in price from $450 to $3,600.

Testers designed this machine to measure how much force you need to move the pedals at various resistance levels.

“With a smaller range of resistance settings you just can’t mix up your workout as much as with a machine that has a large number of resistance settings," says Peter Anzalone of Consumer Reports.

Testers also measure the position your arms and legs are in as you work out to assess a machine’s ergonomics.

“That’s important because we don’t want you to be exercising on the elliptical and be pulled out of alignment or extended too far,” Anzalone says.

Panelists also work out on the ellipticals. It turns out there are big differences.

One of the lowest rated — the Best Fitness BFE1.

“It wasn’t smooth. You felt as if you were being pushed forward, and that’s a problem," says Linda Greene, who tested the machine.

In the end, top ratings went to the Diamondback 1260-EF for
$2200 dollars. It’s well constructed, with very good ergonomics, and you can adjust the incline to get a greater variety of workouts — a real plus.

For far less, Consumer Reports named a $750 machine a Best Buy — the Nautilus E-514. While it doesn’t have an incline adjustment, it’s well constructed, with very good ergonomics.

Both recommended elliptical machines come with a heart-rate monitor — a good feature to have. The monitor is a strap you wear across your chest, and it wirelessly transmits your heart rate to the machine so you can gauge the intensity of your workout.

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