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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 online.

Keep reading to learn more about elliptical machines, including the best models available online and their health benefits.

Medical News Today chooses fitness equipment that meets the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Size and capacity: MNT selects products to suit people of different heights, weights, and strengths.
  • Connectivity: Where fitness equipment has fitness memberships or subscriptions, MNT ensures variation in classes and services that benefit a person’s health.
  • Materials: MNT chooses products that have safe and durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Ease of use: MNT selects simple-to-use products that have clear instructions. If the set-up is complicated, MNT chooses brands that offer a set-up or installation service.
  • Quality: MNT chooses companies that adhere to high quality manufacturing processes that ensure its products are safe for personal use.
  • Reputable: MNT chooses products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices and offer reliable customer service and support.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best overall: NordicTrack FS14i FreeStride Trainer

Price: $2,499

This NordicTrack elliptical trainer features a 14-in smart touchscreen that connects with iFIT via WiFi. It can provide on-demand workouts with personal trainers, coach-adjustable resistance, virtual global workouts, and real-time tracking.

However, the dependency on iFIT means that continuous use will come at an extra subscription cost.

Learn more about iFit here.

It features:

  • four profiles so each member can personalize their experience
  • daily workout recommendations
  • three in one use, featuring stepper, elliptical, and treadmill motions
  • 10% decline
  • 10% incline
  • auto-adjusting stride
  • Bluetooth access
  • workout fan
  • transport wheels

It also has 26 resistance levels, making it a suitable overall option for both beginners and athletes.

Learn more about NordicTrack ellipticals here.

Best for a budget: Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

Price: $549

This elliptical is the lowest cost option on this list. It may suit people on a budget, or who are starting elliptical exercise.

For recommendations on other low cost exercise equipment, click on the following links:

The compact design of the Schwinn 411 also makes it a suitable 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.

This machine has a built-in media tray, a water bottle holder, and an 18-in stride length.

On the downside, it features fewer resistance levels compared to alternatives.

Learn more about Schwinn here.

Best for training: Nautilus E618 Elliptical Trainer

Price: $1,399

This elliptical has 25 levels of resistance and 29 customizable workout programs, including interval training programs.

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

This elliptical may suit people wishing to train regularly or advance their training.

The perimeter-weighted flywheel allows for easy start-up and smooth movement.

It has Bluetooth connectivity, and people can use it with the Explore the World app.

The moving and static padded handlebars allow users to use a variety of hand positions while on the machine.

Best for joint pain: Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical

Price: $1,999

Sole states that this elliptical targets lower areas of the body that other elliptical machines may miss.

The manufacturer claims it minimizes stress on the ankle, hip, and knee joints, making it an option for people with joint pain.

It features 20 levels of resistance, handlebars with pulse sensors, and large foot pedals. The ramp angle is adjustable from zero to 30 degrees for additional resistance.

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

Learn about treadmills from the Sole brand here.

Best for small spaces: ProForm Carbon HIIT H7

Price: $1,403

This trainer may suit small spaces due to its compact design. It has a 10-in vertical path and 5-in horizontal elliptical path.

Transport wheels allow for easy movement, making this elliptical suitable for storage and transportation.

Learn more about the best compact ellipticals here.

It also features proprietary Silent Magnetic Resistance for quiet and smooth operation.

Proform ellipticals also connect to iFIT, providing access to thousands of classes and outdoor workouts and enabling coach-adjustable resistance.

Other features and positives of this product include:

  • audio auxiliary port with Bluetooth speakers
  • pedals with cushioning
  • pulse heart rate sensor
  • 7-in smart HD touchscreen
  • 24 resistance levels
  • cool air fan

Learn more about ProForm ellipticals here.

Best for beginners: Horizon 7.0 AE Elliptical

Price: $1,999

This elliptical machine may suit beginners or people who want a simpler training experience.

It does not require a subscription to online services and has simplified controls and features.

The frame is built for durability and designed to minimize shaking during workouts.

Features include:

  • Bluetooth connectivity with speakers
  • free app for workout control with data syncing to other apps
  • device holder and charging USB port
  • 20 resistance levels
  • lifetime frame and brake warranty

Learn about other Horizon ellipticals here.

Best 2-in-1 cross trainer and elliptical: Teeter FreeStep LT3

Price: $999.99

This machine may be suitable for people looking to get cross-training and elliptical exercise without purchasing two separate devices.

The Teeter elliptical has a free app that provides workouts from trainers targeting endurance, strength, and mobility.

People can adjust the variable magnetic resistance with a dial. Separate batteries are necessary to power the display.

Features include:

  • quiet flywheel
  • transport wheels
  • pedals with a rubber tread overlay
  • a seat that features reclining, two mounting positions, and height adjustability
  • media rack for a tablet or phone

Learn about an alternative to ellipticals, vertical climbers, here.

Best for multitasking while exercising: Bowflex Max Trainer M9

Price: $1,999.99

This elliptical trainer has a 10-in touch screen console that supports streaming Netflix, Hulu, and other entertainment options.

Features include:

  • elliptical, stepper, and other workout options
  • streaming options via the JRNY membership
  • virtual worldwide workouts
  • over 100 workout programs
  • 20 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity
  • total body workout including a reverse option
  • metric tracking

JRNY membership comes at an extra cost.

Learn about Bowflex home gyms here.

The table below compares the products above on key features:

PriceReturn periodWarrantyWeight capacityDimensions
(LxWxH)
Membership
NordicTrack$2,49930 days10 years frame,
2 years parts,
1 year labor
375 lb58.5 in x
29.5 in x
74 in
30 day free iFIKT Family Membership
Schwinn$54990 days10 years frame,
2 years parts,
90 days labor
300 lb52 in x
23 in x
68 in
none
Nautilus$1,39990 days15 years frame,
5 years electronics and parts,
2 years labor
350 lb51 in x
22 in x
34 in
none
Sole$1,999.99nonelifetime frame,
5 years electronics and parts,
2 years labor
375 lb82 in x 31 in x
71 in
none
ProForm$1,40330 days10 years frame,
2 years parts,
1 year labor
325 lb52 in x
29 in x
66.7 in
3 years free iFIT Family Membership
Horizon$1,99930 dayslifetime frame and break,
1 year flywheel and labor
3 years parts
325 lb76 in x
24 in x
65.5 in
none
Teeter$999.9960 days2 years300 lb55.25 in x
38 in x
52.5 in
free
Bowflex$1,999.9915 days3 years parts,
60 days labor
300 lb31 in x
76 in x
50 in
1 year free JRNY

People should consider ellipticals with 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.

Some of the criteria that can help with decision-making include:

  • Cost: Ellipticals are available to suit a range of budgets. More expensive models may have more features.
  • Warranty: Choosing a product with a long warranty can help minimize the risk of replacement due to manufacturer damages.
  • Connectivity: Some ellipticals have connectivity options, smart screens, or other technological features. This can increase the overall cost.
  • Size: People should consider the space available for the elliptical machine. Compact or portable models may suit people with smaller spaces.

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 that people can exercise 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

Research notes that elliptical machines are 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 with 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 on 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

Here are some common questions about ellipticals:

Are home ellipticals worth it?

This depends on how often a person uses an elliptical and their fitness goals. With frequent and correct use, elliptical machines can help improve and maintain general fitness.

People considering ellipticals may want to compare them with other alternatives, such as treadmills, exercise bikes, home gyms, and rowing machines.

Is front or rear elliptical better?

Both target different muscles. Rear motion targets the hamstrings and thighs, while a front elliptical focuses on the calves and quadriceps.

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.