Elliptical trainers have become one of the most popular types of exercise equipment in the past few years; it is easy to see why. They simulate the running motion but eliminate the impact from running that, over time, can have a major negative impact on your ankles, knees, and legs. In addition, most elliptical trainers on the market today include upper-body handles that provide for a total workout.

What are the factors to consider if you are considering buying an elliptical trainer for your home?
The obvious place to start is your budget. Elliptical trainers begin at under $ 500 and can skyrocket to $ 4000 and even higher for luxury models. We recommend erring on the high side of you budget range. A couple of hundred dollars, or 25 cents a day over the life of the machine, can make the difference between an elliptical trainer that is used regularly and one that sits in the corner catching dust.

When it comes to actual features, first and foremost, select a unit that is stable during exercise and has a smooth, fluid elliptical motion. An elliptical trainer that feels rickety when exercising is will offset any other wonderful features.

Next, make sure the stride length is adequate for you. Stride lengths of 18 “to 20” is fine for the majority of people, but if you are very tall, look for even longer stride length. Budget priced elliptical trainers tend to have a shorter stride length and you could consider if you are up to average height.

Now that we've covered the essentials like stability and budget, let's deal with the extras that you can choose from based on your particular needs.

If you like to push yourself to the limit, definitely consider an elliptical trainer that has an adjustable incline. Some models have inclines as high as 30% and this feature can really bring the intensity of your workout to a whole new level.

Decide how important the display and electronics are to you. You can get elliptical trainers with a large number of training programs and lots of feedback information. On the other hand, if you simply want to control your settings and keep track of time, this could be one area to save some money.

If it is important to you that you train in the most optimal way, heart rate monitoring is a must. Most elliptical trainers comprise HR contact grips and many also add wireless monitoring with a chest strap.

Any feature that is well worth it when it makes you want to use the machine more often, for longer periods of time – these “comfort” features can make or break a unit. These include cooling fans, water bottle holders, reading racks and MP3 / iPod docking stations with speakers.

Warranty length tends to follow sales price closely. Below price is the dominant factor, look for 2 to 3 years on parts and 1 year on labor.