Features that Make your Elliptical More Comfortable to Use
There are many parts to an elliptical trainer and if you are to be satisfied with your machine some of those parts need to be specially designed with your comfort in mind. I know that elliptical exercise is not a vacation, but still you should be comfortable when you are using your trainer. Feeling confident and at ease can help you to stay motivated and reduce the risk of injuries while you are working out. Here are some of the features that I think should be comfortable for you if you are going to get the best results:
Not all elliptical trainers have handlebars, but most of them do and they are an important feature if you want to use your elliptical for upper-body as well as lower-body workouts. To keep your workout experience more user-friendly you will need an elliptical with comfortable handlebars. There are typically two types of handlebars on an elliptical – stationary handlebars and moving handlebars. The stationary handlebars are what you will normally use if you want to rest for a moment during your workout, need extra balance, and appreciate built-in heart rate sensors for checking your pulse. The moving handlebars are what you will need when an upper-body workout is your focus.
The handlebars on your elliptical should ideally be padded or textured so that they are comfortable for you to hold. Look for an elliptical that has ergonomically-designed handlebars that allow you to stand fully upright when pushing and pulling them, and make sure they don’t block your access to the console controls. On some elliptical models the moving handlebars will actually have controls on them to make using the machine easier. The controls on the moving handlebars will normally allow you to make adjustments to features like incline resistance and stride.
It is important that the foot pedals on your elliptical are also comfortable, as you will be spending all of your workout time in them. Whereas the handlebars are for the most part optional, you will be required to keep your feet in the foot pedals at all times while you are using the machine. Look for an elliptical trainer that has large foot pedals so that your shoes can fit in them comfortably, and so anyone else using your elliptical will be able to fit in them as well. Ideally you want an elliptical that has non-slip foot pedals and if they are also padded that would be even better, as the padding will make it easier on your feet.
How close together the foot pedals are is also an important factor for you to consider when looking to buy at an elliptical. Generally speaking, a trainer that has the foot pedals closer together will be a better option as this more accurately replicates the natural position of your knees and hips as you are walking or running. This is especially true for shorter users and for women. The pedals should feel natural and comfortable as you use your elliptical trainer.
The Stride Length
Another feature on the elliptical that can affect how comfortable you are is the stride length. On ellipticals the stride length can be anywhere from 12 to 22 inches. Generally speaking, the longer a stride length the better, so that taller persons will be able to use the machine comfortably. In my research I’ve found that most of the ellipticals in the mid or lower price ranges have stride lengths that are 18 inches or less. This is not suitable or recommended for persons over 6 feet tall. When taller persons use an elliptical with a short stride length it can make the their motions awkward and uncomfortable.
Elliptical trainers on the higher end of the price range tend to have longer stride lengths of about 20 to 22 inches, and they’re also usually adjustable. If more than one person will be using your elliptical then it is a good idea to get one with an adjustable stride so each person can customize the stride length for their optimal workout. In most cases you will be able to adjust the stride length electronically during your workouts, but with some electrical machines the stride length has to be adjusted manually, requiring you to pause workout and get off the machine to make the adjustment.
Controls on your elliptical should be easy to read and adjust. Most elliptical trainers will have the controls and monitor at the center of the machine, between the handlebars where they can be easily seen. It will be easier for you to use the elliptical if the monitor display is large and easy to read. Some models will have black lights for the displays so that you can see your workout data even if the room you are in is dimly lit.
The location of the buttons on the console is also very important for your comfort. You don’t want to have to put yourself in an awkward position or worse, having to step off the machine, just to press a button. As mentioned earlier, some ellipticals will have the most-used buttons placed on the handlebars to make them more accessible for the user. The best ellipticals tend to have a lot of features on their consoles, but I think what is even more important than the features themselves is their usability. There’s no sense in having a ton of features if they’re all so complicated you feel too impatient to actually use them.
The Resistance System
The type of resistance that your elliptical machine trainer uses is largely responsible for how quiet and smoothly it will operate. Obviously, an elliptical that feels smooth when you are using it will be more comfortable than one that doesn’t purr like a kitten, but don’t underrate the beauty of a machine that is quiet enough to allow you to do things like listen to music or watch TV without unwanted background noise.
The more comfortable you are when using your elliptical trainer the more motivated you will be to exercise more often and for longer periods. It goes without saying (but I will say it here anyway) than when you are motivated to work out more, you will reach your fitness goals faster. So keep an eye out for these comfort features when you are shopping for your new elliptical trainer.