Health & Wellness

The 4 Best Ellipticals For People Who Are Considered Shorter

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If you’re under 5’7, then you’ll need an elliptical with a stride length somewhere between 13 to 18 inches. But with all the choices out there, how do you narrow it down? To save you some steps and a lot of frustration, we’ve put together a list of ellipticals that will fit both your stride and your lifestyle. To calculate your stride length exactly, see the section at the end of the article.

Many people are opting to home gym-it these days. And the great thing is that you don’t need a whole lot of equipment to get a good, solid workout in. At the top of the list for many of us exercise junkies is an elliptical.

These multifunctional machines deliver on a lot of levels. Not only do they burn mega calories (from about 270 to 400 calories in 30 minutes), but they also have a lot of other advantages such as:

  • Strengthening your heart, lungs and muscles
  • Increasing your stamina and endurance
  • Strengthening both upper and lower body
  • Burning fat
  • Putting less stress on your joints

No wonder there’s usually a line at the gym for these babies! Having one at home is definitely a huge perk. There’s just one tiny drawback if you’re on the compact side like me – finding one that fits your stride length.

Finding Your Stride

Stride length is the max distance between the pedals of the elliptical. In other words, it’s your running gait. And while many elliptical brands make a big deal about their machines having up to a 21-inch stride length, for shorter people it’s actually a disadvantage.

When the stride length is too long, it makes you feel like you’re straining on the machine. And this can actually cause you to lean forward on the elliptical to compensate. But according to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should be able to stand upright when you’re holding the handles.

If you can’t do that, then the machine isn’t the right fit and could have a bad effect on your posture over time.

If you’re under 5’7, then you probably need a machine with a stride length somewhere between 13 to 18 inches. But with all the choices out there, how do you narrow it down?

To save you some steps and a lot of frustration, we’ve put together a list of ellipticals that will fit both your stride and your lifestyle.

To calculate your stride length exactly, see the section at the end of the article.

Ok, let’s get down to business!

Related: DIY Peloton: Building a Cheap Peloton Alternative

Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical

With a stride length of between 14 and 21 inches, this elliptical is suitable for all people including those under 5’7 (which is great if there’s more than one user in the house).

But there’s a lot more to like about this machine besides its stride length. Sole Fitness has a great rep for building quality products and is also known for its excellent customer service. Although this may not be the most economical machine on the market, you definitely get what you pay for.

With its 16 different resistance levels and an incline that can be adjusted up to 30 degrees, fitness nuts will have plenty of ways to challenge themselves. It also has 10 different programs and a display screen that will give you feedback on your speed, calories burnt, pulse, distance and more.

Comfort features include a built-in fan, a bottle holder and handlebars (stationary and moveable) with multi-grip positions. The foot pedals are also specially designed with a 2-degree inward angle to make sure there’s no pressure on your knees and ankles.

Yes, the Sole E35 is on the expensive side. It’s also heavy and not easy to move around. But if you’re looking for a smooth-running machine with a good combination of features, quality and comfort, this could be the elliptical for you.


  • Solid construction and durability
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent customer service
  • Holds up to 375 pounds
  • Adjustable incline
  • 16 resistance levels
  • 7.5” LCD display screen
  • Adjustable foot pedals
  • Water bottle holder
  • Multi-grip stationary and moveable handlebars
  • Built-in fan
  • Connects to your iPod


  • Pricey
  • Not easy to move
  • There are ellipticals that offer more workout programs

ProForm 150i Elliptical

With a maximum stride length of 17 inches, the Proform 150i is right in the zone for people under 5’7. Solidly constructed, this is also a durable machine that will stand up to a lot of use.

To keep your workouts challenging, the Proform has 12 resistance settings and 12 workout apps. It also features oversized pedals for more foot room and two sets of soft grip handlebars (both static and movable) that will help you stay comfortable.

On the downside, this machine is known to have inaccurate readings for both the heart rate and calorie count so you’ll have to rely on other apps for that. You’ll also have to push a button for 20 seconds to start the machine.

Despite these cons, this is a solidly constructed, mid-range elliptical that will keep your workouts challenging and requires little maintenance.


  • 17” stride length
  • Holds up to 250 pounds
  • Durable construction
  • 12 resistance levels
  • 12 workout programs
  • Bottle holder
  • Oversized pedals
  • Soft grip handlebars
  • Backlit LCD screen
  • Tablet holder
  • Good Sound system
  • Compatible with iFit and iPod Audio


  • Inaccurate heart rate monitor and calorie count
  • Must press button for 20 seconds to start workout
  • Takes 1 to 4 hours to assemble

Schwinn 411 Elliptical Machine

If you don’t have a lot of space in your house, this compact and economical model from Schwinn will get the job done. And with a 17.5-inch stride length, it’s a great fit for people on the shorter side.

This machine features 16 levels of resistance. It also allows you to access the Explore the World App, a virtual world of stunning courses from around the world.

The display console is very streamlined. You can track your time, distance, calories burned and heart rate, but that’s all. To monitor your heart rate, just grab on to Pulse grips.

Other convenient features of this elliptical include a device and bottle holder, comfortable pedals and nicely padded handlebars.

It’s also good to know that Schwinn offers a 10-year warranty on the frame, 2 years on all parts and 90 days on labor.

It may not be fancy, but this elliptical has all the basics you need if you’re short on space and want something affordable.


  • 16 levels of resistance
  • Compact footprint
  • Portable and easy to move
  • Affordable
  • Syncs with the Explore the World App
  • Padded handlebars
  • Stainless steel frame
  • Device holder
  • Water bottle holder


  • Very basic display panel
  • Not feature-rich

Ncient Magnetic Elliptical

There are plenty of budget ellipticals on the market; but the quality, features and amazing customer reviews make the Ncient a no-brainer for anyone in the market for a budget trainer.

With a stride length of 13 inches, it’s a great fit for anyone from 5 to about 5’6 feet tall. The maximum weight capacity is 265 pounds.

This machine has 8 levels of resistance which can be adjusted with the turn of a knob. It also has large, padded foot pedals and thickly padded handlebars for comfort.

The LCD display shows your time, speed, distance, calories burned and pulse rate (which you measure by grabbing the pulse pads on the stationary handlebars). It also has a quick scan mode which allows you to compare your stats with ones from previous workouts.

More pluses to this model include an iPod jack, Bluetooth, wireless connectivity and a water bottle holder.

In addition to all of that, its 12-pound magnetic flywheel and V-belt make it very smooth running and also fairly quiet.  And at only 75 pounds with a compact design, it’s super easy to move around.

Not bad for a budget elliptical!


  • 8 levels of resistance
  • LCD display with time, distance, calories burned and pulse
  • Quick scan mode
  • Padded foot pedals and handlebars
  • Super lightweight and compact
  • Affordable
  • Smooth operation
  • iPod jack
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Water bottle holder


  • Limited resistance settings

Things to Consider When You Buy an Elliptical

Other than the obvious factors of stride length and weight, there are various things to consider before buying any elliptical.

Resistance Levels

Some trainers offer more resistance levels than others. If you’re already at an intermediate or advanced level, you’ll probably want to consider an elliptical with more range.

If you’re a light exerciser or just starting out, you may be satisfied with a machine with less range.

No matter where you’re at in your fitness journey, be sure to explore the lower resistance levels of the elliptical before moving up and don’t overdo it. Even if you’re advanced, pushing too hard too soon can result in an injury and set you back.

Do You Bore Easily?

Some people can hop on a machine everyday with no problem while others tend to bore easily and feel like they’re just slogging through it. If you fall in the second category, be sure your elliptical comes with a lot of options.

Resistance levels, pre-set programs, wireless connectivity and apps that are available with the elliptical will help you to mix it up and stay committed to your fitness routine.

Durability and Budget

As with most things, you generally get what you pay for and the same goes for ellipticals. But even if your budget doesn’t allow for one of the upper end models, be sure to look for a machine that’s decently constructed and will last longer than a year.

We’ve recommended a couple of good budget models here. If you opt for another brand, be sure to do your homework and look through a large number of reviews before buying.

Noise Level

Did you live in an apartment or with other people that are sensitive to noise? If so, you’ll want to find an elliptical that works smoothly and quietly. The last thing any of us needs is another excuse not to work out!

Available Space

Just because you live in a small space doesn’t mean you can’t work out at home. As you can see, there are ellipticals with smaller footprints that will get the job done. And if you don’t like to have your machine in view all the time, be sure it’s light enough to maneuver around.

Console Display

A console will help you track your progress with things like time, calories burnt, distance and heart rate. A good console should feel intuitive and measures at least 5 inches so you don’t have to squint when you read it.

It should also have enough contrast to make it readable. If it’s backlit, even better!


Anything that can enhance your experience or make it more comfortable could help to motivate your workout.

Cooling fans, audio systems, tablet and water bottle holders, Bluetooth and compatibility with your iPod are also nice features. Comfortable handlebars and foot pedals are also rat pluses.

The more reasons you have to come back to your mini-gym the better!

Try It Out!

Even for a budget elliptical, you’ll probably be spending at least several hundred dollars. Before you invest, try to find a place where you can test out the elliptical IRL. What works for one person, may not work for another.

User experience is definitely the best way to decide what’s best for you! Get out there and give those ellipticals a test run!

How To Calculate Your Stride Length

1. Measure a specific distance, say 50 feet.

2. Start running at a distance before the starting point so you can find your natural stride.

3. Count the number of strides you take between the starting and finishing line.

4. Your stride length is the distance in feet divided by the number of strides you took.

For example, if you took 32 steps to cover 50 feet, your stride length would be 1.5 feet or 18 inches.

The Starting Line

Well, fitness junkies, there you have it – everything you need to find an elliptical that’s right for you. When it comes to being in shape, height may not matter. But when it comes to finding the right machine, size definitely counts.

Stay fit and stay happy!

You might also be interested in: The Best Smart Scales For Fitness Success

Sherry De Alba

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