What Is an Elliptical Stepper?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 July 2019
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An elliptical stepper is an exercise machine commonly found in gyms and fitness centers, though the machines are also available for home use. The design of the elliptical stepper allows a user to mimic the motion of walking upstairs or high-step running without the high impact associated with these exercises. The machine allows for a smooth motion that is easy on the knees, ankles, hips, and back, making them a popular choice among a wide variety of users. Some stepper machines feature movable hand poles as well so a user can exercise his or her upper body simultaneously.

The design of an elliptical stepper can vary, but the general design features two platforms on which the user can stand: one platform for each foot. These platforms are attached to long, parallel arms that attach at the front and rear of the machine. The rear attachment is affixed to a wheel that rotates when the elliptical stepper is in motion. The arms do not affix to the wheel at the center point, but instead at the high and low points on the wheel. This configuration provides the elliptical movement necessary to make the stepping motion possible.


Users of the machine can either place their hands on a stationary frame or brace, or they can use movable hand poles that mimic the motion of ski or hiking poles. This gives the user another option for raising the cardiovascular rigor of the exercise while on the elliptical stepper. Many machines also feature an adjustable ramp that changes the angle at which the user steps. This makes the exercise easier or harder as necessary: the lower the angle, the easier the exercise will be, and the higher the angle, the more difficult the exercise will be. A user can adjust the angle at any time during use of the machine without having to cease the exercise or dismount the machine.

Many elliptical stepper machines feature a computer mounted at the front of the unit. This computer can adjust the training program, meaning the resistance levels can be adjusted automatically without any further input from the user. The computer can also track how many calories are being burned, how many steps have been taken, how much time has passed, and other useful monitoring statistics. At the end of the workout, the computer will often provide a summary of the user's performance to give him or her an idea of what progress needs to be made in subsequent workouts.



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