What's the best elliptical for you? Consumer Reports tested 31, ranging in price from $450 to $3600.
Testers designed a machine to measure how much force you need to move the pedals at various resistance levels.
Peter Anzalone of Consumer Reports says, "With a smaller range of resistance settings you can't mix up your workout as much as with a machine that has a large number of resistance settings."
Testers also measure the position your arms and legs are in as you work out to assess a machine's ergonomics.
Anzalone says, "That's important because we don't want you to be exercising on the ellpitical and be pulled out of alignment or extended too far."
Panelists also work out on the ellipticals. It turns out there are big differences.
Mark Yatarola, a panelists says, "I found myself leaning forward on it, so I was very close to the controls and such, so it was not very comfortable for me."
Liza Barth, another panelist says, "The machine was easy to use. The displays were bright, and the buttons were big."
One of the lowest rated-the Best Fitness BFE1.
Linda Greene, a panelists says, "It wasn't smooth. You felt as if you were being pushed forward and that's a problem."
In the end, top ratings went to the Diamondback 1260-EF for $2200. 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 good heart-rate monitors-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.