Consumer Reports rates top treadmills, ellipticals and pedometers

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By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blogDecember 28, 2011, 10:46 a.m.


As you reach for another snickerdoodle you’re probably thinking about taking off all the weight you gained over the holidays. Maybe you’re contemplating buying a piece of exercise equipment to use at home. Consumer Reports is here to help by rating the top home-use treadmills and ellipticals as well as pedometers, all in different price ranges.

The Precor 9.31 is the top-rated non-folding treadmill, and also a pricey one at $4,000. At the number two spot is the Landice L7 Cardio Trainer at $3,800 and in third place is the True PS300 at $2,400. Coming in at number four, and less than half the price of the Precor, is the Sole S77 at $1,900.

Folding treadmills tend to be much less expensive than the non-folding types; the LifeSpan TR4000i has the top spot at $1,700, followed by the Smooth 7.35 at $1,600 and the Fitnex TF55 at $1,800.

The top three folding treadmills for those on a budget, according to the report, are the NordicTrak C900 at $1,000, the ProForm Power 995 at $1,000 and the ProForm Performance 600 at $800.

For those who prefer getting their cardio on an elliptical trainer, the No. 1 pick was the Octane Fitness Q37ci at $3,100, followed by the Vision X30 Premier at $1,800 and the Smooth CE 3.6 at $1,300. The report notes that if you’re not crazy about monitoring your heart rate and can go without other bells and whistles, you can opt for the Octane Fitness Q37c for $2,600.

Machines were rated on ergonomics, construction, ease of use, safety, exercise range, and if they included a heart-rate monitor and a chest strap.

A survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center of 18,984 people who own 27,825 cardiovascular machines found that treadmills were most popular (38% of machines), followed by elliptical trainers and upright stationary bikes (16% each) and recumbent bikes (11%).

Not that into exercise machines? How about a pedometer? Several studies have shown that having a pedometer to track steps is a good way to stay motivated to exercise, and they’re far less expensive than a treadmill. In fact, the top three conventional pedometers came in at $30.

Some pedometers offer more than step tracking; they can tell you calories burned and distance traveled. And besides standard pedometers there are also apps and GPS watches that can do the job, but for more money–the latter run around $130 to $300.

The top three conventional pedometers were the Mio Trace Acc-Tek, the Omron GOsmart Pocket HJ-112 and the Yamax Digi-Walker CW-701. Among cellphone apps the Accupedo pedometer widget for Android phones had the top spot and cost $4; number two was the Pedometer Pro GPS+ for the iPhone at $3 and number three was the Max CA Apps Pedometer TM for the iPhone at $1.

The three top GPS watches were the Nike+ SportWatch GPS at $200, the Garmin Forerunner 210 at $200 and the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Speed + Distance T5K267F5 at $300.

The devices were rated on their accuracy, features and ease of use, and whether they had a stopwatch, speed calculator, backlight and memory function.

The report also advises trying test driving machines and looking at pedometers before buying–you may not like the way a certain treadmill feels or find a GPS watch too difficult to use.

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