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Buying an Elliptical Machine

An elliptical machine is a home gym staple that many people prefer over treadmills, stationary bikes and stair-climbers. With smooth leg movements and upper body resistance components, elliptical trainers offer a low-impact simulation of our natural walking and running motions. They are said to be smoother, more stable and more ergonomic than other types of home gym equipment.

Elliptical machines provide cardiovascular benefits as well as a total body workout, with less stress and strain on joints and minimal chance of impact injury.

An elliptical trainer can be a smart investment. Before purchasing your elliptical exercise equipment, consider the following:

1. The footprint of elliptical machines can vary greatly. Be sure to measure your home gym area before choosing a machine.

2. Stride length should be matched with the height of the user. Some of the newer models have adjustable stride length, but most machines have a fixed length between 14 and 21 inches.

3. The resistance system has a large impact on functionality. Eddy-current is the quietest, most responsive and most reliable. Electromagnetic machines are more affordable but also noisier and slower to make resistance adjustments.

4. There are three main types of drive systems. Rear drive is smoothest and offers the truest elliptical motion. Front drive usually requires some maintenance, and the motion tends to be flatter. Center-drive systems are a relatively new design and vary with regard to maintenance requirements, reliability and ergonomics.

5. There are many available options, including heart rate monitors, workout programs, variable resistance settings and even water bottle holders. Don’t get so distracted with bells and whistles that you sacrifice machine quality.

6. Beware of 90-day warranties, and avoid purchasing extended warranties from third parties. Look for a lifetime warranty on the frame and at least one year on the motor and parts.

Before making a purchase, visit several retail establishments and spend some time testing the equipment. Research brands and prices online and speak with a knowledgeable sales representative who can help you choose the best elliptical exercise machine for your fitness level and goals.