Consumer Reports offers the best cardio exercise equipment for home use

Consumer Reports has been busy testing more than a dozen new treadmill and elliptical machines.

"We look to see how easy they are to use. We do ergonomics testing to see how well they fit the average user. For ellipticals, we do an analysis of the pedaling motion. And for treadmills, we do a durability test to see how well they're constructed," said Peter Anzalone of Consumer Reports.

Also included in the tests, there is a newer type of cardio equipment called an alternative motion machine. These allow you to vary your stride like on a treadmill while keeping your feet in contact with the pedals and reducing your impact, similar to an elliptical.

They take some getting used to and can be pricey.

The crowd-pleaser among Consumer Reports' panelists is this Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer. It's a commercial machine that sells for almost $9,000.

As for treadmills, your first decision is folding or non-folding.

"If you're interested in running and have the space, a non-folding treadmill would be a good option. They're usually a bit more expensive, but they have a longer deck, typically, so they're well suited for running," said Anzalone.

The $2,300 Sole T-T-8 is great option for runners. The buttons are easy to read and control, even at a fast pace.

Non-runners and space savers can get by with a less expensive folding treadmill. This ProForm Pro 2000 is a Best Buy at around $1,200.

Elliptical exercisers If you want to go easier on your joints, consider an elliptical machine. Consumer Reports says look for one with a heart-rate program. It will automatically adjust the resistance setting based on your target heart-rate setting.

The $3,000 Precor EFX 225 offers a variety of intensities, so it's great for beginners as well as seasoned exercisers.

Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization that does not accept advertising and does not have any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.
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