How to Use a NuStep Machine – Low Impact Seated Elliptical For Seniors

There are many daunting pieces of gym equipment that is available for individuals to use to improve their strength, endurance, and overall fitness. One of the pieces of equipment that is excellent for seniors, and individuals with mobility impairments is called the NuStep. The NuStep machine is a essentially a seated elliptical, which allows you to work your arm and leg muscles at the same time. The best thing about this, is that it is extremely low-impact, and offers individuals of all physical abilities to work their entire body and even get a little sweat on. The NuStep machine can look a little intimidating to anyone first using the machine. Many of the older adults that I have worked with, often have questions on how to use the NuStep machine, which is the main reason in writing this article. When broken down, the NuStep machine is very easy for any beginner to get into, operate, and have a low-impact cardio workout.

How to Use a NuStep Machine

The NuStep machine can be overwhelming to look at, and try to operate at first glance. Thankfully, we can break down how to use the NuStep machine into a few separate parts to make the operation of the seated elliptical, much more user friendly. These sections will be split up into:

  • Initial Setup
  • Making adjustments when seated
  • Operating the machine
  • Understanding the monitor

Initial Setup

For the initial setup of the NuStep machine, we need to look at all of the different levers and adjustments that can be done, before getting on the piece of equipment. For starters, you can look at the handles. The handles typically have a knob, or lever that you can use to move the handles up or down. You can look right at the joint where the handles extend out to find where this is. For the seat, you can do a couple of different things. Usually, directly under the seat there is a lever that you can pull up, allowing you to adjust the NuStep machine either forward or backwards. In addition to this, there is also a lever on the back of the seated elliptical that when pulled up, allows you to swivel the chair to the side. This makes it much easier to transfer out of a wheelchair, or simply access the machine easier. In addition to this, there might be one last lever to either side of the seated elliptical, which controls the resistance. This isn’t the same for every model, as I have seen some that have a manual resistance handle, and some that use the electronic display to control the resistance. Once you understand how these work, you can now get onto the NuStep machine!

Making adjustments when seated

When you first get seated in the NuStep machine, you will likely not have your arms or legs in the correct position. You will need to use the knob adjustments for the arms, and the lever below the chair to adjust your leg length. To find the proper leg length, I usually recommend the seniors I work with to have to set the machine to where your leg is almost straight, but with a slight bend. You want to keep a slight bend in your knee, to allow maximum strength through the pedal. The hand adjustments will be based off of preference. For this, I usually recommend to have the handles set so that when you extend your arm fully, your back should still be touching the back of the chair. Feel free to play around with adjustment to the NuStep machine, and understand at the end of the day that it is mainly your preference for the settings.

Operating the machine

When you get the NuStep machine all setup, you may notice that the display isn’t working. All you need to do to get the machine working is to start pedaling your arms and legs. Once you do this to the seated elliptical, the display will turn on, and you will be good to go! Make sure you keep pedaling, otherwise the display will turn off.

Understanding the monitor

When the display gets going, you may see a lot of different numbers and words that are confusing to understand. This is another area where the NuStep machine might differ slightly from model to model. For the one shown in the video above, the NuStep machine display has:

  • Time
    • The time shows how long you have been continually pedaling on the NuStep machine.
  • Steps Per Minute
    • Steps per minute shows how many “steps” you are taking with each push per minute. The higher this is, the faster you are stepping.
  • Heart Rate
    • This feature only works if you have a heart rate monitor hooked up to the NuStep machine. If you don’t have a monitor, this will remain blank.
  • Workload
    • Workload is a measure of how much resistance is being applied to the pedals. Think “how hard” it takes to push one. This is based off a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the hardest workload. As mentioned earlier in the article, this can be adjusted on the display itself, or with a handle on the side of the seat, depending on your model.
  • Calories/Mets/Watts/Steps
    • In the middle there is this section that has multiple different options, listed above. You can press the “select” button to switch between different units. Calories dictates how many calories you have burned during the workout. Keep in mind this is only an estimate, and likely inaccurate. Mets is simply a standard way to measure how hard you are working. The higher the Met value, the better your workout is. Watts is a way to measure how much “power” or “energy” you are creating. Just like the met value, the higher this number is, the better the workout. The steps category tells you how many steps you have completed in the entire workout.
  • Extra
    • In addition to this, there is an “enter weight” area on the side that you can adjust for yourself before starting the workout. This is not needed to actually exercise on the NuStep machine, but does give you a slightly better estimate of your calories burned during exercise.


There are a lot of different things that may make using the NuStep machine confusing for beginners that have never seen it before. This guide will hopefully relieve some of the distress you might have when first trying to use it. If you are interested in purchasing one of these, you can check out this link of the NuStep machine, here. Thanks for reading, and please share with others!

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