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7 Best Elliptical Machines for Low-Impact Workouts

You don't have to hit the gym for an effective, full-body workout.

best ellipticals

Runners can gain huge fitness benefits from using elliptical machines, particularly on rest days or while recovering from injuries. The steady resistance you get from an elliptical machine’s pedals puts less strain on your muscles and joints, providing a lower-impact way of maintaining your cardio fitness. And the moving handles on most models allow you to engage your upper body and core, so you can get a full-body workout.

Running on an elliptical might not be quite the same as treadmill running—with a static pedal pattern, you won’t be able to work on your running form, and your speed and mileage won’t correlate exactly—but introducing some variety and active recovery to your training can help more than just sticking to running alone. Plus, even the non-runners in your family can enjoy an elliptical machine—with an array of resistance settings, ellipticals provide a great workout for fitness rookies and advanced athletes alike.

What to Consider

Like most home fitness equipment, ellipticals are available with a wide range of styles and with varying functionalities, from the most basic models to commercial-grade, gym-quality machines. Some are more upright and compact enough to fit into a four-foot space in your house, with a front- or center-drive unit that tends to provide a lighter workout. Others have center- or rear-drive units that take up more space but have an extended track-and-roller design for a more ergonomic, full-body workout. The former tend to be less expensive and easier to store. The latter often include more features and customizability, such as an adjustable incline, adjustable stride length, and more levels of resistance.

As with treadmills, to some extent you get what you pay for with elliptical machines. Although you can get a good workout from lower-priced models with fewer settings, having more options will keep your workout interesting and challenging. The top machines offer a broad range of adjustable resistance—often with 20-plus levels. They also include more adjustability in general, including auto-controlled incline height and stride length. How much stride length you need is largely dependent on your size, but 20 inches of length is a good baseline to go by.

Other factors you’ll want to consider are whether or not the machine has moving arms for a full-body workout, or other bells and whistles, such as heart-rate monitors and Bluetooth to connect you to interactive workouts.

Although some models cost as little as $200, those machines tend to be more difficult to assemble and will break down more quickly. A higher-quality elliptical will provide a quieter, smoother ride that will hold up longer and give you more workout customization. Just be sure to consider your space and budget when shopping; if you’re looking to replicate the quiet, smooth experience of a gym elliptical, try a commercial-grade, rear-drive machine. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, try visiting a fitness retailer to test-run a few different models. Also make sure to check out the warranty before buying—mechanical issues can strike even the higher-end models.

Best Ellipticals

Bowflex M3 Max Trainer Bowflex Read More
Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine Schwinn Read More
Body Rider Elliptical Machine and Stationary Bike Body Rider Read More
Sole E25 Elliptical Machine Sole Read More

How We Selected

Every elliptical machine here has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We researched the market, surveyed user reviews, spoke with product managers, and used our own experience working out on these machines to determine the best options. Most models have been tested by our staff, and those that haven’t have been carefully chosen based on their price, durability, smoothness, adjustability, and features. Here are the best elliptical machines for a low-impact workout.


Bowflex M8 Max Trainer

Bowflex M3 Max Trainer
$849.20 (15% off)

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 20 resistance levels

  • Warranty covers only 90 days labor

If you can’t decide between a stair climber and an elliptical machine, check out this compact hybrid with the functionality and benefits of both. The M8 is Bowflex’s midrange model and gives you interactive workout programs and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as 20 resistance levels. It has seven guided workouts to run through—some of which are only 14 minutes long, so you can maximize your time. For a more budget-friendly machine, check out the M5 or M3. The M8’s included warranty covers just three years for frame and parts and only 90 days’ labor, though you can pay more to add a more generous plan.


Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine

Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine

  • 3-speed fan to keep you cool

  • Not as smooth as higher-end machines

Schwinn’s premium elliptical is a smooth and solid machine for the price—particularly if you catch it on sale. It won’t give you quite the longevity and smooth, stable feel of a higher-end elliptical, but it packs in a lot of features that similarly priced ellipticals don’t. The 470 has 25 levels of resistance to dial in your ideal workout intensity, a power-adjustable incline, a 20-inch stride length for good range of motion, a 20-pound flywheel, and a three-speed fan to keep you cooler and more comfortable. It connects by Bluetooth to sync with most major fitness tracking apps, so you can use it to track your mileage and run virtual races all over the world. Just be warned that the warranty falls a little short: It covers 10 years for the frame, two years on the parts, but only 90 days’ labor.


Body Rider Elliptical Machine and Stationary Bike

Body Rider Elliptical Machine and Stationary Bike
Body Rider
$88.56 (39% off)

  • Adjustable seat and handles

  • Very basic

Not only is this bike super affordable, but it has the option to be used as both an upright elliptical and a stationary bike. The seat and handles are easily adjustable, so you can get a comfortable and personalized fit every time, and it makes it easy to share with family members. The machine is pretty basic, but it does have a display which can show you time, speed, calories and distance. There is also a gradual tension adjustment which allows you to increase or decrease tension with the turn of a dial.


Precor EFX 222

PreCor EFX 222

  • Sturdy and stable
  • Generous warranty

  • No digital adjustability
  • Expensive

For those who want to bring the smooth experience of a gym elliptical to their home, the Precor EFX 222 is a nice middle ground between budget and premium. It has an ergonomic feel that better replicates a natural running stride than most other ellipticals, 10 built-in workouts, 16 resistance levels, and an overall sturdy, high-quality, rear-drive build. In some senses it feels like a bit of a throwback, particularly in terms of the old-school display and lack of digital adjustability. However, if you’re more interested in a sturdy, stable build than electronic features, it’s a great option. The ramp can be adjusted to three different angles; however, it has to be set manually. A generous warranty covers the frame and welds for a lifetime, the console for three years, and one year of labor.


Sole E25 Elliptical

Sole E25 Elliptical Machine

  • High-end features at a decent price
  • Lifetime warranty on the frame

  • Smaller elliptical path than the brand's higher-end models

As Sole’s entry-level and most affordable elliptical, the E25 is a hit for its integration of high-end features at a price below $1,500. It shares a number of the hallmarks of the brand’s higher-end models, like 20 power-adjusted incline settings, 20 levels of resistance, wireless heart rate monitoring, and a Bluetooth-enabled LCD screen with 10 workout programs.

It does have a slightly smaller elliptical path—20 inches to the higher-end models’ 22 inches—and a lighter, 20-pound flywheel. But for the cost, it’s a solid, stable machine with a 350-pound weight capacity, a few bonus features, and a natural-feeling footpath. If you’re on the fence, know that it also comes with one of the most generous warranty packages out there: A lifetime for the frame, three years for the parts and electronics, and one year labor. If you want to upgrade, try the E95.

—Explore the World at Home—

Nautilus E616 Elliptical

Nautilus E616 Elliptical
$999.00 (33% off)

  • 25 resistance levels

  • Large footprint

This is a great mid-range elliptical that has a bunch of standout features in a relatively affordable, easy-to-use package. While it doesn’t have a super fancy screen, this elliptical is capable of connecting to Bluetooth, and is compatible with popular fitness tracking apps that allow you to track your workouts and stats. If you get a subscription to “Explore the World,” you will be able to discover over 50 routes that will automatically adjust the settings of the elliptical to reflect the terrain. It also has 25 levels of resistance, and up to 100 percent incline, so it definitely has room to grow if you already have a solid fitness base.


NordicTrack FS10i

NordicTrack FS10i

  • Adjustable stride length up to 32 inches
  • One-year iFit membership included

  • Pricey

The FS10i is a midrange elliptical in NordicTrack’s Freestrider line, which allows you to adjust the stride length up to 32 inches for a more freeing range of motion that supports users of varying heights. If you’re looking for a natural, run-like feeling from your elliptical, this is likely your best bet. The machine lets you set its movement pattern to replicate the functionality of a stair climber, standard elliptical, or treadmill.

This model has everything you need for an engaging workout: a 10-inch HD touchscreen which can stream iFit workouts (a free one-year membership is included), a 10 percent auto-adjustable incline, a 20-pound flywheel, and 24 resistance levels. It also has all the bells and whistles, like an integrated fan, in-handle controls, and a cup holder. The machine comes with a pretty standard warranty: 10 years for the frame, two years for the parts, and one year of labor.

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