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One of the biggest mistakes people looking for an elliptical machine make is not checking to see if the stride length range is suitable for them. Getting a good workout on this machine is only possible if your walking gait at any speed is natural while on it. That way you’ll get full extension of your legs for the best possible workout while also ensuring that you don’t develop an injury after a while. The best elliptical for a short person should be one that can adjust to a short stride length. While you could find a variable stride elliptical that allows you to adjust the setting within a specified range, others come with a fixed stride length, so this should not be so long that you find yourself over-extending your legs.
While you may think that a long stride length will push you to work harder and therefore get fit faster, that’s not the case and you can end up doing damage to your muscles and joints. If you pick the elliptical stride length by height, you can use higher resistance settings for that harder workout without fear of injury. Someone who is 5’2″ or under will probably find that the best stride length for an elliptical should be no more than 18 inches. Generally, the elliptical foot pads should also not be set too far apart from one another. A stride length of around 20″ is typically good for people of moderate height, but those who are 6′ or taller should look for a machine with an even longer stride length.
While there are some disadvantages to being short, when it comes to buying fitness equipment, you can find good machines that are very reasonably priced and quite compact, unlike models that tall people have to look at just because the machine has to be bigger to accommodate bigger people. The same goes for elliptical cross trainers where the elliptical stride length plays a part in the overall length of the machine. Not only will it be easier to find space for it at home, but you won’t have to break the bank for a model with high end features. A disadvantage with these inexpensive models is that they’re usually lacking in advanced features like variable incline. Even adjustable stride elliptical machines are rare.
However, you have to ensure that cheaper doesn’t mean less stable or durable. Our reviews will help you find the best short stride elliptical for your needs, but if you’re not sure what to look for when buying one, take a look at our buyer’s guide.
Table of Contents
Quick Comparison for Best Elliptical for Short People
|Product||Rating (out of 5)||Ramp incline||Stride length||Resistance levels||Programs||User Profiles||Size||Max. User Capacity||Price|
|Exerpeutic 5000 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer||3.6||none||18"||24||12||1||55"L x 25"W x 64"H||270 lbs||$$|
|Universal E40 Elliptical||4.2||none||17.5"||8||7||1||30"L x 16"W x 36"H||350 lbs||$$|
|Fitness Reality E5500XL Magnetic Elliptical Trainer||3.7||none||18"||24||21||1||57.5"L x 24"W x 66"H||270 lbs||$|
|ProForm Smart Strider 895 CSE Elliptical||4.0||0 – 10°||18"||24||32||1||65”L x 32”W x 80”H||325 lbs||$$$$|
|Kettler Unix M Elliptical Cross Trainer||4.5||none||16"||10||8||2||54.0"L x 31.5"W x 64.25"H||330 lbs||$$$|
Exerpeutic 5000 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
Although solidly middle of the road in price, the Exerpeutic 5000 trainer does offer a few bells and whistles. With built-in Bluetooth capability and its own app, owners can keep track of their workouts and progress via smartphone, tablet or PC. It offers twelve preset workouts and twenty-four levels of magnetic resistance, as well as pulse sensors in the stationary handlebars and an easily readable computer console. Its 18″ fixed stride length is comfortable for shorter users, with a 270 pound weight capacity. You can move the pedals forwards as well as backwards so a variety of muscles will be engaged throughout a workout. The moving handlebars offer a good upper body workout as well.
It is a double transmission system featuring two flywheels and two belts, and its rear drive setup allows comfortable, smooth pedaling both forwards and backwards, giving variety to your workouts.
While its design is relatively compact and the machine has casters for easier stowing after use, extensive assembly is required before the trainer is ready for use. Depending on the vendor, professional assembly service is available, but those wanting to tackle the job themselves need to allow a lot of time and patience. New exercisers may notice that even the lowest levels of resistance prove difficult, and successfully syncing a device with the Exerpeutic app can be challenging. Squeaking may be heard after some time of steady use, but overall this machine is sturdy and reliable.
Universal E40 Elliptical
If sophisticated electronics and multiple programs aren’t appealing to you, but a good basic elliptical is, the Universal E40 should be considered. With just seven preset workouts, eight levels of magnetic resistance, a 17.5″ fixed stride length and no incline, beginning exercisers won’t find it intimidating. A computerized console and built-in grip heart rate sensor makes keeping track of your workouts easy. This is one of the few home ellipticals on this list with its pedal drive in front, rather than in the back, so it is much more compact in length and suitable for very small spaces. The E40 can also be operated by D batteries, although a separate AC adapter is available, and its operation is quiet.
Assembly is required, but clear directions make setting up simple. The simplicity of the E40, though, can be a drawback for some users, particularly once they’ve gotten into the exercise habit. The lack of a backlight on the console can make reading workout data difficult. However, heavier people will find that the 350 lb maximum weight capacity makes it a good buy, and for a straightforward, no-frills workout this machine is a safe choice and of good value.
Fitness Reality E5500XL Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
It may have one of the lowest price tags among ellipticals, but the Fitness Reality E5500XL trainer has nearly all of the features of the more expensive machines and offers a few practical enticements as well. It has a 270 pound weight capacity and a smooth 18″ fixed stride length with a rear Double Transmission drive. Shorter users will find that its lowest pedal position is only six inches from the ground, making getting on and off the machine much easier. The distance between the two pedals is also low at 6 inches, making for the most natural stride possible.
A sleek backlit LCD console and handlebar-mounted heart rate sensors will help you keep track of your progress, and 24 levels of magnetic resistance and 21 preset workouts will keep you challenged. As a bonus, its light weight, slim design and back leg wheels ensure that it can be stored out of a home’s traffic zones.
The E5500XL may be low to the ground, but its poles are longer than the average elliptical, which could make it difficult for smaller exercisers to achieve full arm motion while maintaining proper form. Like many home ellipticals, assembly is required, and it’s strongly suggested that two people take part due to the number of pieces and time involved. Even with those caveats, the E5500XL is excellent value for money and shouldn’t be overlooked.
ProForm Smart Strider 895 CSE Elliptical
If you’re looking for a higher-end machine with a lot of features, the ProForm Smart Strider 895 will warm the hearts of both the serious exerciser and the gadget geek. The biggest difference with this model is that it comes with 0-10 degree power incline capability, something you won’t find in cheaper models. This 18 inch stride elliptical with rear drive, 24 levels of magnetic resistance, quiet operation and generous 325 pound weight capacity is attractive enough, but those who enjoy their comfort will find a lot more to like.
Both, resistance and incline can be quickly controlled via buttons integrated into the moving handles so that you don’t have to break your workout flow at all when changing intensity. Instead of having a heart rate monitor in the handlebars, which is fairly standard, the Smart Strider has an EKG monitor with a chest strap. The chest strap also connects to the iFit app via Bluetooth, which, in addition to the 32 preset workouts, offers a wide variety of workouts powered by Google Maps. To make working out less of a slog, there’s a tablet holder, iPod-compatible audio, a water bottle holder and even a built-in fan.
Although it’s quite a long machine, when you’re done working out, you can fold the Smart Strider 895 CSE up to stand vertically and roll it away on its rear-mounted wheels to a corner.
In keeping with its price tag, the Smart Strider offers another boon – no assembly required. Considering that this elliptical weighs nearly 200 pounds, this is a definite advantage, but the cost may be a drawback, and a paid subscription to iFit is necessary to get the app to work. For those willing to pay, however, ProForm’s Smart Strider 895 gives a lot of bang for the buck.
Kettler Unix M Elliptical Cross Trainer
Kettler is a classic name in exercise equipment and their machines are wholly made in Germany, so it stands to reason that you’d get a high quality elliptical trainer here. Its Unix M machine, considered to be a mid-range product but rather pricey compared to similar trainers, has interesting features but leaves out some items that are usually basic. It offers three ways to measure your heartbeat–handlebar sensors, a infrared sensor that clips on a user’s earlobe, or an optional chest strap. Its LCD computer console is clear and readable, and it can be tilted to provide the best visibility. You get some of the most comprehensive feedback on it, including recovery heart rate with audio and visual signals for upper heart rate limit.
It only offers 10 levels of magnetic resistance and no incline, although the pedals can be adjusted to three different positions to complement its quiet rear drive. It does have one of the the largest weight capacities of the machines listed here, at 330 pounds. It also has the shortest stride length, fixed at 16″, a plus for shorter users.
Assembly is required, but it can be done yourself. While it’s certainly an adequate and durable machine in keeping with its manufacturer’s other products, the Unix M doesn’t really offer a lot of value for the price, considering that many less expensive machines offer a wider range of features, both practical and technological, including the capability of running on either batteries or AC. The Unix M runs strictly on batteries, and with that many moving parts, it adds more expense to an already costly machine. Where is does excel is its focus on cardiovascular based training and is therefore a good choice for anyone concerned with heart-healthy fitness.