Consumer Reports: Best workout equipment

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With everyone making New Year's resolutions, sales of exercise equipment peak this time of year. But ellipticals and treadmills can cost thousands of dollars, so you want to be sure to get a good machine. Consumer Reports can help. (WLS)

With everyone making New Year's resolutions, sales of exercise equipment peak this time of year. But ellipticals and treadmills can cost thousands of dollars, so you want to be sure to get a good machine. Consumer Reports can help.

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," said Peter Anzalone, of Consumer Reports. "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."

Also included in the tests were 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," Anzalone said. "They're usually a bit more expensive but they have a longer deck, typically, so they're well suited for running."

A $2,300 Sole Fitness TT8 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, the ProForm Pro 2000 is a best buy at around $1,200.

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.

For a less expensive elliptical, Consumer Reports named the $800 Schwinn 470 a best buy. Although it doesn't offer a wide variety of exercise intensities, if you're just starting out and want to save some money, it's a very good option.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2016. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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