Are you suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee? Are you recovering from an injury? If you want to get back on your fitness journey, starting with low-impact cardio machines that are safe and effective would be ideal.
When used correctly, an elliptical can help you get a total body workout without stressing your joints.
When using an elliptical, your feet rest on a platform, and they move in an oval motion. Your feet are steady and not striking against a surface, as they would have been with a treadmill. This helps you increase the intensity of the workouts while being easy on your knees.
Most ellipticals come with a set of moving arms that also let you target your upper body.
- Experience full-body cardio with low impact.
- Get the benefits of running without hurting knees.
- Get an incredible workout with our compact machine.
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But how do you pick the best elliptical for your home gym? You have to consider factors like build quality, maximum user weight, footplates, stride, resistance, and more. A simple search on Amazon returns 200+ results.
We have compiled a list of the best ellipticals for bad knees to help with your purchase decision. Let us get started.
5 Best Ellipticals for Bad Knees
Working out on an elliptical can provide benefits like an effective lower and upper body workout, less stress on joints, and improved stamina and endurance.
We have considered factors like the elliptical size, design, features, programs, assembly, and usability. Here are our top five recommendations.
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical – Best in Customer Ratings
- Schwinn 470 Elliptical – Best in Workout Programs
- Nautilus E616 Elliptical – Best in Value for Money
- NordicTrack C 7.5 Elliptical – Best in Maximum User Weight
- Precor EFX 835 Elliptical – Best in Premium Quality
1. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical – Best in Customer Ratings
Consider the SF-E905 from Sunny Health & Fitness if you want a mass-approved elliptical. It is rated a 4.1 out of 5 with over 18,500 customer ratings.
It is also a budget-friendly buy with features like a small footprint, adjustable resistance, and pulse sensors.
Here is how the SF-E905 elliptical performs.
If you have limited space, the SF-E905’s small footprint will work in your favor. It weighs about 61 lbs. It has transport wheels so you can tilt, move, and store the elliptical when not in use.
It uses a belt drive system with magnetic resistance for a quiet workout session. It has oversized textured non-slip pedals.
The digital monitor is pretty basic. It shows details like time, calories, and pulse. The pulse sensor is located on the static handlebars. These readings are not the most accurate. Using your smartwatch or other fitness app would be more reliable.
Assembling the SF-E905 can be quite a task. This is because the instructions are not clear. You get the tools for assembly in the box, but you are better off using your own tool kit.
The elliptical uses 2 AAA batteries to function, which are included in the package. You can control the resistance by adjusting the knob on the center frame of the machine.
It can support a maximum weight of 220 lbs and has a stride length of 11 inches. So be aware of these limitations before purchasing.
It is a beginner-friendly elliptical that delivers in terms of performance. It is easy to use and has a comparatively quiet operation.
With the SunnyFit app, you can access over 1000 workouts. You can access specific workouts for the elliptical or access programs that do not need any gym equipment.
|Assembled Dimension||28 x 17 x 57 inches|
|Machine Weight||60.8 lbs|
|Maximum User Weight||220 lbs|
|Display||Small digital monitor|
|Resistance||8 resistance levels|
|Workout Programs||No preset programsAccess workouts on the SunnyFit app|
|Price||Starts from $249|
|Warranty||Structural Frame: 3 years, Other Parts And Components: 180 Days|
- The elliptical is ideal for small spaces
- It is a pocket-friendly elliptical
- It offers multiple resistance levels
- It is not suitable for tall people
- The assembly instructions are not clear
2. Schwinn 470 Elliptical – Best in Workout Programs
If you want your elliptical workout to be interesting and challenging, consider the Schwinn 470. It is the top-end elliptical by the brand, offering 29 programs.
With its Bluetooth connectivity, you can use apps like Explore the World, which takes you through 200+ virtual courses.
Here is how the Schwinn 470 elliptical performs.
The Schwinn 470 has a front-drive design, with its assembled dimensions being 70.1 x 28.2 x 63.2 inches. The machine, weighing 164 lbs, is on the heavier end, so be careful when moving it around.
It can support a maximum user weight of 300 lbs. It has a stationary and moving set of handlebars. It has large cushioned footplates, which makes it easier for you to balance.
It has two DualTrack blue backlit LCD systems. It shows details like time, distance, pulse, and speed.
As mentioned above, the machine is heavy, so start assembling it in the room you intend to use.
You will need two people for the assembly. It can take two to three hours to set up the elliptical. Schwinn offers a detailed assembly manual. But if you are not mechanically inclined, you can get the elliptical assembled by a Schwinn professional.
With a 10-degree motorized ramp and 25 levels of resistance, you can customize the intensity of your workouts.
The Schwinn 470 is equipped with accessories like a water bottle and a media shelf holder, a 3-speed fan, and a built-in USB charging port.
You can create up to four unique user profiles. The elliptical is also compatible with the MyFitnessPal app.
With a stride length of 20 inches, the elliptical works for tall people. However, shorter users may be uncomfortable using the elliptical because the stride is not adjustable.
|Assembled Dimension||70.1 x 28.2 x 63.2 inches|
|Machine Weight||164 lbs|
|Maximum User Weight||300 lbs|
|Display||DualTrack™ 2 blue backlit LCD window system|
|Resistance||25 levels of magnetic resistance|
|Stride||20 inches Precision Path Stride|
|Workout Programs||29 workout programsBluetooth connectivity - Explore the World App|
|Warranty||Frame: 10 years, Parts: 2 years, Electronics: 1 year, Labor: 90 days|
- It offers workout programs
- It can support a maximum user weight of 300 lbs
- The elliptical has Bluetooth capabilities
- It offers 25 levels of resistance
- It can be a pricey option
- The stride length is not adjustable
3. Nautilus E616 Elliptical – Best in Value for Money
If you are looking for a mid-priced elliptical with good features, consider the Nautilus E616. With discounts, you can get the elliptical around the $700 mark.
It has DualTrack LCDs, multiple resistance levels, workout program options, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Here is how the Nautilus E616 elliptical performs.
The E616 is meant for home gyms with enough space. It is a heavy elliptical weighing about 174 lbs.
It has a 22 lbs flywheel, which is heavy enough for a home gym. It has two sets of handlebars, one stationary and the other moving.
It has 20 inches of dual stride rails. It also includes other design elements like DualTrack LCDs, in-console speakers with an MP3 input port, and a USB charging port.
The machine is heavy, so again, assemble it in the room where you will use it. Nautilus offers good instruction manuals. It can take two people about two to three hours for assembly.
If you do not want to put together the elliptical, you can purchase the in-house assembly service.
You have 25 levels of resistance to increase your workout intensity as you progress.
The E616 supports Bluetooth connectivity. You can connect to fitness apps to access different workout programs and keep track of your progress. Explore the World and MyFitnessPal are examples of compatible apps.
You can create up to four user profiles and set and track your own goals.
You also have 29 workout programs to explore. These include profile, heart rate control, custom, and fitness tests.
|Assembled Dimension||70 x 28 x 71 inches|
|Machine Weight||173.3 lbs|
|Maximum User Weight||300 lbs|
|Resistance||25 resistance levels|
|Workout Programs||29 programsAccess the Explore the World App|
|Price||Starts from $699|
|Warranty||Frame: 10 years, Parts and Electronics: 3 years, Labor: 1 year|
- It offers in-built workout programs
- It is a mid-priced elliptical
- It is Bluetooth-compatible with fitness apps
- The elliptical can get noisy with use
- The machine is heavy
4. NordicTrack C 7.5 Elliptical – Best in Maximum User Weight
If you want an elliptical with a high user weight capacity, consider the NordicTrack C 7.5. It can support a maximum user weight of 325 lbs.
You will find other ellipticals with a higher weight capacity, but this elliptical deserves a mention, considering its price point and features.
Here is how the NordicTrack C 7.5 elliptical performs.
The C 7.5 is a front-drive elliptical. It has a 20 lbs effective flywheel. It offers a stride length of up to 19 inches, which is power adjustable.
You have 22 digital resistance levels to work with. It also offers a 0 – 20% power-adjustable incline. So, you have the option to adjust the elliptical as per the condition of your knees.
It has a small 5-inch backlit display. It has an auxiliary music port and two 2-inch digital amplified speakers.
NordicTrack offers good assembly manuals with parts lists, steps, and illustrations. It can take two people about two hours to put together the elliptical.
You have 26 workout programs to choose from. These include calories and performance workouts.
The elliptical is iFit membership ready. You could get a month of iFit membership as a free trial, depending on ongoing offers. If not, you can choose to become a premium member.
The C 7.5 includes design elements like a water bottle holder, oversized and cushioned footplates, an integrated tablet holder, and SoftTouch upper-body grips.
It has heart rate sensors on the handles. The readings, though, are not very accurate and should be only taken as a reference.
|Assembled Dimension||67.1 x 25 x 69.1 inches|
|Machine Weight||220 lbs|
|Maximum User Weight||325 lbs|
|Display||5 inches Backlit Display|
|Resistance||22 Digital Resistance Levels|
|Stride||19 inches Power-Adjustable Stride|
|Workout Programs||26 workout apps|
|Warranty||10-Year Frame Warranty, 2-Year Parts Warranty, 1-Year Labor Warranty.|
- It supports a maximum user weight of 325 lbs
- You have 26 workout program options
- It offers multiple resistance and incline options
- It has a small display
- iFit premium membership can be expensive
5. Precor EFX 835 Elliptical – Best in Premium Quality
If you want to bring a premium-quality elliptical, consider the Precor EFX 835. You will need ample space in your home gym and also a big budget for the machine.
The elliptical features Precor’s patented Converging CrossRamp technology. This mimics your natural stride and attempts to reduce stress on your joints.
Here is how the Precor EFX 835 elliptical performs.
The EFX 835 takes up the most space when assembled on this list of ellipticals. It is also the heaviest elliptical, weighing about 340 lbs.
It offers up to 20 resistance levels. Its upper handlebars are moving. It has oversized polypropylene foot pedals.
It has a large LED display. You can track metrics like distance, calories, average speed, and workout summary.
The console supports multiple languages like English, Dutch, French, and Spanish.
Setting up the elliptical can be a hassle. Firstly, the machine weighs 340 lbs, and the manuals are decent at best.
I would recommend you get the delivery and assembly service by Precor. It will cost you $199.
The machine offers a 10 to 35-degree ramp adjustment. You can adjust the ramp angle to focus or cross-train specific lower body muscles.
The stride length at a minimum incline is 21 inches. This stride length may be uncomfortable for shorter users.
The EFX 835 offers preset programs like cross-training, navy, fitness tests, HRC, and interval.
The heart rate sensors are on the fixed handlebars. The elliptical is also equipped for heart rate telemetry reading through a chest strap.
It has accessory holders for items like your water bottle and phone. It has transport wheels, but move the machine with care as it is heavy.
|Assembled Dimension||80 x 30 x 67 inches|
|Machine Weight||340 lbs|
|Maximum User Weight||350 lbs|
|Display||Large LED display|
|Resistance||20 resistance levels|
|Stride||Up to 25 inches|
|Workout Programs||10+ preset programs|
|Warranty||Frame: Lifetime, Parts: 10 Years, Console: 3 Years, Labor: 1 Year|
- It supports a maximum user weight of 350 lbs
- Precor offers a good warranty on the elliptical
- It offers a stride length of up to 25 inches
- It is an expensive home gym elliptical
- The elliptical is pretty heavy
How We Picked and Tested the Elliptical for Bad Knees?
Buying an elliptical is an investment in your health. And if you have bad knees, the build quality takes utmost importance.
We first started with online research, looking at different ellipticals, the technology they work on, design, features, and customer reviews.
The shortlisted ellipticals were tested right from assembly to usability.
Here are some factors we considered when selecting the best elliptical for bad knees.
1. Stride Length
For users under the 5’7” mark, ellipticals with 15 to 18 inches stride should work. Taller users around the 5’9” mark and above should look for a 20-inch stride length or more. This is important because you do not want to overstretch or cramp your bad knees.
The above ellipticals have different resistance options, some offering incline adjustments as well. As a beginner, you can start at the lowest intensity level and gradually build up.
Most ellipticals have preset programs or are compatible with fitness apps. Doing the same workout on an elliptical can get boring, so these programs help keep up the motivation.
The list consists of budget-friendly and premium ellipticals. The cost range starts from $249 to upwards of $9000.
An elliptical is one of the ideal cardio machines to use if you have bad knees. Other cardio machines include a stationary bike, a rowing machine, or a recumbent bike.
You should avoid working out on a treadmill or the stairmaster if you have bad knees. These cardio machines can put additional pressure on your hips, knees, and ankles.
Maintain your posture when using an elliptical. Your back should be straight, and your shoulders relaxed. Increase speed, resistance, and incline gradually and in a controlled manner. Wear supportive low-heeled shoes and proper workout attire.
Ellipticals are known to offer low-impact workouts. They mimic the natural stride motion and help reduce pressure on the joints. Maintaining proper posture during the workout is essential to get optimal results and avoid injury.
We put together our list of the best ellipticals for bad knees after considering factors like brand, design, accessories, maximum weight capacity, flywheel, resistance and incline options, warranty, assembly, and cost.
If you have bad knees, it is always best to consult your physician before starting a workout routine.
If you have used any of the ellipticals mentioned above, share your experience in the comments below.