- Air walkers, also known as air gliders, are exercise machines that provide a great way to get a full-body, calorie-burning, low-impact aerobic workout at home.
- The Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer is not only the best overall but also the budget model on the list; it’s smooth, easy to assemble, compact, and economical.
When someone gave me an air walker, I tried it and wondered, how in the world is this exercise? All I’m doing is swinging my feet! After about 10 minutes of nonstop striding, however, I did break a sweat and realized that continuing for another 10 to 20 minutes at a brisk clip would constitute a decent full-body aerobic workout. Air walkers – especially those with built-in resistance – provide low-impact exercise for your leg, arm, and abdominal muscles.
Think of an air walker as the elliptical trainer’s low-tech, less glamorous, space- and money-saving cousin. On an air walker, you keep your legs mostly straight as you move them back and forth (or even side to side on some models) as opposed to bending and straightening them while stepping on an elliptical machine. Also, air gliders are smaller and more economical, making them convenient, portable home exercise equipment that doesn’t need electricity.
An air walker is powered by your body’s motion and weight, so you control its speed and your workout’s intensity -the faster, harder, and wider (or higher) you stride, the more intense the workout. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults have “at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.” With the air walker, you’ll get aerobic and weight-bearing exercise – important for bone density – that’s easy on your joints and ears (i.e., quiet enough for watching television, listening to podcasts, etc.).
From experience, I can say that striding on an air walker definitely raises the heart rate, burns calories, tones muscles all over (especially the butt!), stretches legs and hips, engages the core, and tests a person’s balance as well as coordination. Exercising on an air walker consistently can help you lose weight and strengthen muscles without bulking up.
When choosing an air walker, consider the following:
- Size: You want one that can accommodate your stride length and your weight. Many models fold up for easy storage but if you plan on keeping it set up, make sure it fits your allotted open space.
- Frame: One that’s strong, stable, and durable in build, yet smooth and fluid in motion is ideal.
- Resistance: Some models come with adjustable levels of resistance while others offer no resistance. My air walker has no built-in resistance, but I simply tie TheraBand resistance bands around the moving bars connecting the handles to the pedals in order to create resistance. You also can attach bungee cords instead.
- Versatility: In addition to moving front to back, the foot pedals of some models move side to side for additional exercises (great for inner thigh toning)
What’s also nice about air walkers as exercise equipment is that they are fairly low-maintenance. Just check for loose screws and oil the joints occasionally.
As with any health and exercise product, follow the instructions and practice safe use. If you have any health-related concerns, consult a medical professional before using.
Here are our top picks for the best air walker in 2019:
- Best air walker overall: Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer
- Best basic air walker: Gazelle Edge
- Best versatile air walker: Fitness Reality Dual Action/Multidirectional Cloud Walker X1
- Best outdoor air walker: Stamina Outdoor Fitness Strider
- Best high-end air walker: Gazelle Supreme
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.
The best overall
- Sunny Health & Fitness
The Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer is not only top-rated, but it’s also the best-priced model for striding your way to cardiorespiratory fitness.
Believe it or not, the Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer – rated number-one by fitness websites including Lat PullDown, Fit For Gym, and Top Fitness Review – is also the lowest priced model on our list of top picks. Use this “budget-friendly” yet popular and high-performing equipment to tone your muscles and get a full-body, low-impact cardio-aerobic workout. In addition to exercising your legs and arms, this model works your abdominal muscles as you maintain an upright posture while gliding.
Unlike most air walker models, the Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walker Trainer has a vertically adjustable abdominal pad for support and comfort. Some people like the pad, while others remove it for more room and instead use their abdominals even more for stability and endurance.
It has a sturdy steel frame, oversized nonslip footpads/pedals, and an LCD monitor that conveniently displays workout information like time, count, total distance, and calories burned. People weighing up to 225 pounds can stretch their calf-, thigh- and gluteal muscles with the 30-inch stride length.
When not being used, the space-saving Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer folds down to half its open length (from 29 inches to 15 inches) for a small footprint and easy storage. However, several Amazon users note that the walker felt “flimsy” and the plastic pedal separated from the metal frame.
What people do like is the walker’s smooth, quiet operation. You can start off in a slow walk to warm up before progressing to a faster run all in one continuous movement. Made for all ages, this model is popular with former runners and people up to their 80s because it’s gentle on the ankles, knees, and back.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer might not be intense enough for some athletes but it is, as one Amazon reviewer writes, a “perfect ‘while-you-watch-TV’ workout.” Another reviewer had a novel idea of installing one at the office “to spend a few minutes throughout the day getting some mild cardio, get the blood circulating, and working out some of the tension. You won’t break a sweat in your nice suit, but you may prevent yourself from getting a blood clot!”
In addition to the aforementioned accolades, the Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walk Trainer ranks first on Best Reviews Info and second on Best Seekers, while 10Best Ranked, which selected the machine as its top model, named it the “Best Abdominal Muscle Toning Air Walker.” In addition to being critiqued favorably on Best Women’s Workout Reviews, it earned 4.5 out of 5 stars from Target customers and 5 stars by 53% of more than 800 Amazon reviewers.
Pros: Smooth operation, compact body, easy assembly, great price
Cons: Only moderately intensive, no resistance, flimsy for some
The best basic air walker
For people who want a no-frills yet effective air walker, the Gazelle Edge is the way to go – dependable, glides smoothly, and provides a good workout.
Although less fancy than the high-end Gazelle Supreme, the Gazelle Edge still does the job. It delivers a cardio-aerobic, total-body workout that burns calories and tones muscles while being easy on the joints – not to mention, fun. This basic model doesn’t have any resistance, but it does have a patented, dual-action split suspension that provides a complete range of motion and smooth, fluid movement.
Best Women’s Workout Reviews says the Gazelle Edge is “perfect for people who are new to exercise” as well as advanced users because it can accommodate more challenging exercises like the “Wide Glide, which is the Basic Glide done with longer strides … the High Glide, during which you would increase your pace and extend your arms and legs as far as possible as you stride… and interval training or ‘power sprint.'” Leaning forward or backward while striding also helps increase intensity.
Some people can get an intense workout on the Gazelle Edge while others say it’s better for a “quick and light” workout. Many Target and Amazon customers say they have lost weight using this apparatus that makes exercising fun. As an owner of a Gazelle Edge owner, I agree, but I have had to spray WD-40 on the frame to stop it from squeaking in order to hear the TV. Otherwise, this walker glides along quietly.
The Gazelle Edge has a durable 1.5-inch rolled steel frame, foam-covered handlebars, extra-wide non-skid foot platforms, and a computer that tracks speed, distance, time, and calories burned. It has a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds (the more heavy-duty, slightly more expensive model with a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds is the Gazelle Freestyle). And, this walker folds up for storage.
The Gazelle Edge is ranked first on Best Seekers, second on 10Best Ranked, and fourth on Top Fitness Review. Among almost 100 Target customers it averaged 4.5 out of 5 stars, and 56% of more than 1,700 Amazon reviewers awarded it 5 stars.
Pros: Smooth, stable, and durable
Cons: No resistance, squeaks
The best versatile air walker
You can move front-to-back and side-to-side on the Fitness Reality Dual Action/Multidirectional Cloud Walker X1, greatly expanding your exercise options.
Like other walkers, the Fitness Reality Cloud Walker X1 glides forward and backward. But what’s different about this versatile model is that its pedals also move side-to-side and have a 180-degree circular range of motion for multi-directional leg exercises. Fit For Gym, which rates the walker very highly, notes that another advantage of this multidirectional movement is that it “enhances the flexibility of the body.”
Reviewers at 10Best Ranked place the Fitness Reality Cloud Walker X1 within their top three picks and point out that “if you would like to focus a bit more on your thighs, then this is just the walker for you. [It] allows you to stretch your legs from side to side while exercising … you feel the effect of it on your inner and outer thigh muscles [and] your hamstring muscles which further tones your legs faster.”
Hold the stationary handles, stand on one leg, and either make wide circles with your other leg to tighten your butt and thighs, or push your other leg out to the side to work your inner thighs. You also can push out and pull in both legs simultaneously; squat while doing this to increase intensity.
Amazon users compare gliding on the Fitness Reality Cloud Walker X1 to speed walking and cross-country skiing. Although this model has no resistance, one person compensates by “leaning forward and pushing with my arms (which also works the backs of my arms) or leaning backward and pulling with my arms (which also works my biceps). The additional push/pull changes the amount of tension manually that I have to exert with my legs.” People also like that this walker is quiet and has a small footprint when folded up for storage.
The Fitness Reality Cloud Walker X1 has a 2.75-inch thick tubular steel frame, oversized ribbed foot pads, pulse sensors on the stationary handles, and an LCD computer that displays distance, time, pulse, step count, and calories burned. It has a 36-inch stride length and accommodates users from 4-feet, 10-inches tall to 6-feet tall, weighing up to 225 pounds.
Pros: Multi-direction movement for diverse leg exercises, helps increase flexibility, easy assembly and folding
Cons: No resistance
Buy the Fitness Reality Dual Action/Multidirectional Cloud Walker from third-party sellers on Amazon
The best for outdoors
Enjoy a breath of fresh air while exercising alfresco on the durable and smooth Stamina Outdoor Fitness Strider.
I first tried an outdoor walker in a nearby park, thinking it was a just playground ride. As corny as this sounds, I found myself meditatively gliding while gazing toward a lake and listening to sounds of nature … and then felt the burn when I climbed off after about 10 minutes. So the Stamina Outdoor Fitness Strider is not merely a playground toy, but a bona fide piece of exercise equipment that delivers a real low-impact, cardio-aerobic workout.
Designed to be set up and used outside, the Stamina Outdoor Fitness Strider has a large, heavy-gauge steel frame covered with a durable paint that protects it from UV rays and resists rust, chipping, and corrosion in non-salt water environments. A Walmart customer who keeps the walker outside on the deck says that it “can stand up to the elements.” A couple of other owners, however, note that screws at the joints have developed rust and recommend covering the walker with a large tarp or grill cover. The paint’s vibrant green color fits in well with the outdoors.
The stable Stamina Outdoor Fitness Strider glides smoothly. It has dual-action handlebars so you can tone and strengthen your upper and lower body simultaneously; it also has stationary hand grips to hold while focusing on the lower body only. Its frame is contoured for comfort and it has large textured pedals for different foot sizes. This sturdy 109-pound walker can accommodate users weighing up to 300 pounds and is easy to assemble.
Users really enjoy the Stamina Outdoor Fitness Strider‘s fluid action and the option of exercising outdoors. In fact, mixing up the routine and going outside for fresh air provide more motivation for working out. Another plus is the ability to keep an eye on kids and pets playing outside.
Although the Stamina Outdoor Fitness Strider does not have any built-in resistance, you can increase intensity as described by one Amazon customer: “If you vary your foot positioning (forward or back), you change the dynamics of your stride. If you bend at the knee you can create short, fast choppy strides working your thighs. Lean back and you accentuate working your upper body, shoulders, back, and arms. Grab the center support and you can do deep and long strides that hit glutes and thighs.”
Pros: Provides freedom and motivation to exercise outdoors, sturdy, smooth
Cons: No resistance, screws can develop rust
The best high-end air walker
The Gazelle Supreme is a well-known, top-of-the-line air walker with hydraulic resistance, versatility, and advanced technology.
Many people have become familiar with air walkers because of the man in the photo above: fitness trainer Tony Little. You would see him pitch Gazelle gliders on TV infomercials in the odd hours. While as-seen-on-TV products tend to be gimmicky, the Gazelle (and Tony Little) has stood the test of time – and still going strong.
The most deluxe model in the current Gazelle lineup, the Gazelle Supreme, has many features that really enhance workouts: hydraulic resistance pistons; a patented dual pivot system for a large range of motion and independent movement of the legs; “Soft Glide” technology, which makes striding smooth and reduces the impact on joints; grip pulse monitors and a computer that tracks your heart rate, calories burned, distance, time, and speed; and three workout DVDs (“Total Body Workout,” “Tony Little’s Quick Shape Workout,” and “Tony Little’s Ultimate Body & Mind Workout”) with helpful exercise tips and demonstrations from Mr. Little and friends.
You can do 10 different exercises, including variations on gliding (basic, wide, low, high, forward push and power), body positions (leaning forward or leaning back), and arm movements in order to target, tone, and stretch specific leg-, chest-, arm-, back-, and abdominal muscles. The hydraulic pistons offer a lot of resistance, which many users really like. A downside, however, is that you can’t adjust the level of resistance – it’s either all (pistons engaged) or none (pistons disengaged).
Runners, cyclists, and other athletes enjoy the intense but low-impact aerobic and resistance challenges of the Gazelle Supreme. Amazon customers say it’s a good alternative to exercising outside in bad weather, mimics cross-country skiing, and nicely supplements their regular routines. Lat PullDown – which ranked this model second after the Sunny Health & Fitness Air Walker Trainer – says it provides “excellent cardio training to people of all fitness stages.” On the other hand, Top Fitness Review – which rated this air walker within its top five picks – thinks it is best for experienced users “who’ve owned other elliptical gliders and want to upgrade to a higher quality machine.” Nonetheless, Amazon users who are beginners still love using this model.
The Gazelle Supreme‘s stable frame, high-density foam handlebars, and extra-wide non-skid foot platforms with shock-absorbing rubber inserts make people feel secure. Its maximum weight capacity is 300 pounds, yet it folds up for easy storage. Numerous users note that the frame squeaks, but this annoyance is easily remedied with WD-40 lubricant spray.
Fit For Gym rated the Gazelle Supreme as its second-best air walker. In addition to a favorable review on Best Women’s Workout Reviews, this model earned 5 stars from 51% of almost 300 Amazon reviewers and 4.5 out of 5 stars from 74 Dick’s Sporting Goods customers.
Pros: Stable, intense workout with pistons/resistance
Cons: Squeaky, assembly instructions a bit confusing for some