Mag ranks treadmills, ellipticals for home workouts

- January 16th, 2010

Before you head out to buy a treadmill or elliptical machine this year, you may want to check out the results of a recent study conducted by Consumer Reports magazine.

In its February 2010 issue, Consumer Reports recommends 14 treadmills and elliptical machines, including five “Best Buy” choices based on performance and value. The research, which involved putting 48 exercise machines to the test, is part of “Get Fit In 2010,” a do-it-yourself Web guide at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

“It’s a good idea to try the machines out in a store and see how you like these features,” says Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor for Consumer Reports Health. “Bottom line, if those bells and whistles entice you to work out more, they may be worth the expense.”

Here’s a look at the study’s highlights, which have been provided to the Keeping Fit blog.

Top Treadmills (nonfolding)

• Best Buy: The AFG 13.0 AT for $1,800. It’s the best value of the bunch and comes with a variety of exercise programs.

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Best Buy: The AFG 13.0 AT for $1,800

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The AFG 13.0 AT console

• Top-rated: The Precor 9.31, a powerful well-built model that scored well across the board at a price of $3,300.

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Top-rated: The Precor 9.31 for $3,300

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The Precor 9.31 console

Note: Nonfolding machines are usually more powerful with longer decks and tend to be higher priced.

Top Treadmills (folding)

• Best Buy: The Sole F63 at $1,000, a good price for a machine that tops out at 12 mph with a 13 percent incline.

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Best Buy: The Sole F63 for $1,000

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The Sole F63 console

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Folding the Sole F63

• Top-rated: Bowflex 7-Series, priced at $1,500, has a bright easy-to-read monitor display, and its 60-inch deck is as long as the deck of any nonfolding model, which makes it suitable for just about any runner.

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Top-rated: Bowflex 7-Series for $1,500

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Bowflex 7-Series console

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Bowflex 7-Series folded

Notes: The best folding treadmills save space and compare favorably with any treadmill. One of the folding treadmills, the Best Fitness BFT1, earned a rating of “Don’t Buy: Performance Problem” because its incline feature malfunctioned on two of the three samples tested by Consumer Reports.

Top Ellipticals

Best Buy No. 1: The Sole E35 at $1,300 is the top-rated of the three Best Buys. The Sole has an adjustable incline, pedals with a changeable foot angle, and controls on the moving handgrips.

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Best Buy No. 1: The Sole E35 for $1,300

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The Sole E35 console

Best Buy No. 2: The NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 for $900. The NordricTrack is notable for its programs controlled by its heart-rate monitor and a ramp that can be adjusted electronically while working out, features usually found in more expensive models.

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Best Buy No. 2: The NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 for $900

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The NordicTrack AudioStrider 990 console

Best Buy No. 3: The LifeCore LC985VG for $1,000. The LifeCore has a dial control for adjusting resistance and selecting from multiple preset programs.

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Best Buy No. 3: The LifeCore LC985VG for $1,000

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The LifeCore LC985VG console

Consumer Reports offers the follwoing tips on how to shop for the machine that’s right for you:

• Budget and midrange models can usually be found at Sears, Sports Authority, Walmart and other discount and sporting-goods chains. Shop at sporting-goods specialty stores for moderate to high-end models.

• Keep a close eye on dimensions. Exercisers will need extra space to safely get on and off a machine. When shopping for ellipticals, take close stock of the vertical space, especially if there are low ceilings, because exercisers will be elevated on the machine.

• The machine’s display should have easy-to-use controls and will show some combination of heart rate, calories burned, speed, resistance levels, and details such as time and distance.

• When it comes to warranties, look for one that provides two to three years of coverage on major moving parts and a year for labour. Surveys on the probability of failure and repair costs have shown that extended warranties are probably not a good deal.

• Pay attention to ergonomics and adjustability. When using an elliptical, there should never be discomfort in the knee or hip joints, and knees shouldn’t bump the frame or handgrips.

• See more detailed tips online at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

Consumer Reports® is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, it tests, informs, and protects. To maintain independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of its information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.

Categories: Fitness

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