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Purchasing the right workout equipment

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.

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 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." says Consumer Reports' Peter Anzalone.

The test also include a newer type of cardio equipment called an alternative motion machine. This technology allows the user to vary their stride like on a treadmill while keeping their feet in contact with the pedals and reducing impact, similar to an elliptical.

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

When it comes to purchasing a treadmill, the first decision is between folding or nonfolding.

"If you're interested in running and have the space, a nonfolding 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." says Anzalone.

For runners the $2,300 Sole T-T-8 is a great option with buttons that are easy to read and control, even running at a fast pace.

Nonrunners and space savers can get by with a less expensive folding treadmill. This 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.


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