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Elliptical machines provide people with a low impact way to increase their fitness at home.

A range of elliptical machines is available to purchase. A person considering the various options may find it helpful to focus on the features they particularly need.

For example, someone with limited space may prefer a compact model, while an individual with arthritis may wish to opt for a model that is particularly gentle on the joints.

Keep reading to learn more about elliptical machines, including the benefits of this form of exercise and some of the best models on the market.

An elliptical machine is a stationary piece of exercise equipment that people may use for walking or running. The machine may also simulate stair climbing or cross-country skiing.

People use these machines by pushing the pedals with their feet to move them up and down or forward and backward. The machine will usually have resistance settings to allow a person to adjust the intensity of the workout.

As a person’s foot never hits the ground when using an elliptical machine, this equipment puts minimal stress on the knee, hip, and back joints, providing a low impact workout.

Many elliptical machines also have movable handles or poles, so people can exercise the arms and legs together.

The Arthritis Foundation (AF) advises that people take the following steps when using this equipment:

  • warming up first
  • wearing shoes with good arch support
  • maintaining good posture throughout the workout
  • holding the handlebars to maintain balance
  • starting slowly and avoiding pushing too hard

Many different elliptical machines are available to purchase. Below, we look at three models that people may wish to consider.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information is purely research-based.

Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

The compact design of this model makes it an option for people with limited space.

Its features include 16 levels of resistance, along with wireless heart rate tracking. It also gives users access to the Explore the World app, which allows them to enjoy virtual locations around the globe while exercising.

Overall, customer reviews on Amazon give this product an average rating of 4.1 out of 5.0 stars.

Nautilus E618 Elliptical Trainer

This model comes with 29 weight loss programs and Bluetooth connectivity. It also features heart rate and interval training programs.

People can adjust the resistance and incline to change the intensity of workouts.

Overall, customer reviews on Amazon give this product an average rating of 4.1 out of 5.0 stars.

Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical

On its website, the company states that this model targets lower areas of the body that other ellipticals miss.

The machine apparently minimizes stress on the ankle, hip, and knee joints, so it may suit people with tender joints and those prone to injury.

The model also has Bluetooth speakers that allow someone to listen to music from their personal devices on the console.

Overall, customer reviews on Amazon give this product an average rating of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars.

Research notes that using elliptical machines is a good way to develop physical fitness.

By providing a cardiovascular workout, this equipment offers many health advantages. It also provides additional benefits that people might not get from other types of exercise:

Increases strength in backward-motion muscles

Elliptical machines provide a way of exercising specific groups of muscles that may not otherwise receive a workout. This benefit comes when using a model that has the option of pedaling in reverse.

The muscles involved in this backward motion are different than those that the body uses to produce a forward motion. The AF notes that while a backward motion exercises the hamstrings and backs of the thighs, a forward motion exercises the calves and quads.

Allows people with joint conditions to exercise

In a study in the journal Gait & Posture, researchers compared the extent of weight-bearing in overground walking, overground jogging, treadmill jogging, and elliptical exercise. Compared with the other types of activity, elliptical exercise significantly reduced weight-bearing.

The researchers concluded that elliptical exercise could be useful for rehabilitating people after they have undergone surgery on a leg. They also said that the exercise could help prevent overuse injury for individuals who have a higher risk of worsening a chronic joint condition.

The AF recommends elliptical machines for individuals with arthritis.

Allows people with certain disabilities to exercise

Older research examining the effects of elliptical machine exercise for individuals recovering from stroke found that it was a safe way to increase balance, endurance, and functional mobility. A more recent review notes that rehabilitation specialists may sometimes use this equipment in conjunction with an exoskeleton.

Another study discovered that this kind of workout could reduce tiredness in people with multiple sclerosis and increase their quality of life.

There are many ways of getting regular exercise, including using other types of equipment, such as a treadmill or stationary bike. Below are some additional options.

Before starting a routine, a person should talk with their doctor about any health concerns.

Water aerobics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 2.5 hours of swimming or water aerobics per week might lower the risk of chronic disease. It may also improve the health of people with heart disease or diabetes.

Walking

Brisk walking allows people to get fresh air and sunshine while exercising. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), walking benefits health by:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • strengthening bones and muscles
  • reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • boosting mood
  • aiding in weight management

Dancing

A study exploring the benefits of dancing in older adults found that it helped these individuals by:

  • maintaining physical fitness and function
  • contributing to independence and quality of life
  • fostering social interaction

Elliptical machines are a form of stationary exercise equipment that usually provides both an upper and lower body workout.

Using this equipment does not stress the joints in the way that some other types of workouts, such as jogging, may do. As the feet push on pedals rather than hitting the ground, the exercise is suitable for people with arthritis.

Before purchasing an elliptical machine for use at home, a person may wish to consider other low impact forms of exercise, such as brisk walking or water aerobics.