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Best Exercise Equipment for the Elderly

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    Exercise yields several benefits to seniors. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that people who engaged in regular physical activity lived five years longer than sedentary individuals. Sadly, not many people realize the importance of exercise. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of endurance and strength training per week, yet 31 million American seniors still refuse to exercise.

    Some of the most common factors preventing one from exercising include a low fitness level; old age impairs physical capacity. Fortunately, aging individuals can use fitness equipment to compensate for their lack of strength and endurance. You don't have to make a complete home gym, of course. However, invest in the best exercise equipment for seniors geared toward mobility assistance.

    What are the Benefits of Senior Exercise Equipment?

    Some people prefer no-equipment bodyweight regimens, while others make home exercise equipment a priority. Admittedly, the convenience of a bodyweight workout program sounds appealing. However, you would be hard-pressed to find trainers wholly discouraging seniors from using home exercise equipment. Working out with an exercise machine yields several advantages, including:

    Injury Prevention

    Exercise equipment significantly reduces the risk of injuries. Most options consist of gears and levers that assist throughout movements; thus, making exercises safer for beginners.

    For instance, pull-ups are a great exercise to strengthen the back muscles. Unfortunately, performing them requires significant strength and balance; poor execution could cause severe shoulder and back injuries. Mobility-impaired seniors who wish to work out their lats, traps, and rhomboid muscle groups safely can opt for a lat pull-down machine.

    Significant Workout Results

    There is a misconception that strength training automatically leads to bulky muscles. This idea could not be further from the truth. The first few weeks of weight training boosts muscle strength and mobility, not muscle mass.

    Do not shy from using weights. Building strong, lean muscles requires external resistance—which can come in several forms like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or even your body weight.

    As you exercise, you will slowly adapt to your preferred training method. While this growth shows progress, it also indicates the need to use heavier, more challenging forms of resistance. Otherwise, you will hit a plateau and stop progressing.

    Increased Motivation

    Demotivation stands among the top reasons why people quit their workouts. In most cases, one starts losing interest if they don't see progress. Sadly, it takes months for weight loss results to become evident.

    Plus, even if you have a positive outlook on exercise, you cannot eliminate lazy, low-energy days. Slacking off is natural. However, if your lazy days stretch for weeks, you will run the risk of reverting to a sedentary lifestyle.

    One way to stay committed to your workout goals is by investing in a home gym. For many people, high-quality exercise equipment serves as an incentive to push through with any exercise program.

    Ease and Convenience

    Do you find yourself skipping workouts to avoid leaving home? You're not alone. People are more likely to forgo exercise regimens that require going to the gym, park, or fitness center. The hassle of commuting demotivates plenty of seniors.

    If you're committed to leading an active, healthy lifestyle, consider building getting home exercise equipment. Working out feels more manageable if you can do it from your house.

    Pro Tip: It is a common misconception that home gyms cost a fortune. If you invest in branded, special-grade weight training equipment, then your overhead will skyrocket to tens of thousands of dollars. However, a simple home setup would only set you back by a few hundred bucks. Get an exercise bike for cardio, dumbbells for strength training, and a clean yoga mat for mobility exercises.

    24/7 Accessibility

    Performing outdoor activities has several conditions. For example, you cannot go long-distance running in harsh weather, such as snow, rain, or extreme heat. You will have to wait for the sky to clear up—which leaves a short window spanning only two to three hours.

    If you do not want your entire day to revolve around your workouts, invest in exercise equipment. In this example, seniors who love to walk or do light jogs can opt for elliptical or treadmill workouts instead.

    What Should You Look for in Exercise Equipment for Seniors?

    Several factors contribute to the perfect home gym. Setting up random weights will not help you achieve your fitness goals. At worst, you could hurt yourself. If you want to create a personal gym setup that matches your workout preferences, goals, and lifestyle, consider the following criteria:

    Athleticism

    One of the first criteria to consider is your level of athleticism. Inactive seniors should limit their dumbbells to around 10 pounds. If in doubt, consult with a professional trainer. Have them assess your current limitations, gauge your capacity, then identify the safest workout intensity.

    Budget

    How much will it cost to build a small gym in your home? The cost of exercise equipment for seniors varies from brand to brand, but you can generally expect advanced machines to cost more than basic ones. For example, you can get a pair of quality resistance bands for $50, but a reliable exercise bike would cost you anywhere from $500 to upward of $2,000.

    Available Space

    Never buy exercise equipment unmeasured. Even if you had the funds for a large smith machine, you wouldn't be able to maximize it if the bar bangs against the walls. Plus, bulky machines compromise the overall safety of your gym. Cramped setups are prone to accidents.

    To avoid mishaps, compare the available space in your room versus your prospective equipment's dimensions. Allot extra space for your body to move around the machine. For example, ellipticals and exercise bikes would require you to free up some space for the legs.

    Fitness Goals

    Your exercise equipment should align with your fitness goals. If you want to boost muscle strength, get resistance training equipment like a rowing machine or bench press. Alternatively, those who want to focus on cardio should go for an elliptical machine.

    Ergonomic Design

    Seniors should generally avoid free weights unless they have a high level of athleticism. Lifting heavy dumbbells and barbells requires more than just brute strength; poor technique and balance can cause grave injuries.

    Seniors with zero sporting experience need exercise gear equipped with safety features. Choose smith machines over flat benches, resistance bands over dumbbells, and kettlebells over heavy barbells.

    Top Picks for the Best Exercise Equipment for Seniors

    The sheer number of exercise equipment on the market intimidates many first-time shoppers. Most people don't even know what workouts to perform, let alone decide what gym setup suits their fitness needs. Fortunately, we can help make shopping easier. Below is a quick list of the best exercise equipment for seniors:

    1. Best Yoga Mat: Manduka Pro Yoga Mat

    • $108 to $250
    • Ideal for whole-body yoga poses and stretching exercises
    • Stretch your whole body at least once a day

    Strengthen your core muscles and loosen stiff joints by regularly performing yoga exercises. The Manduka Pro Yoga Mat ranks among the top yoga mats on the market. Every yogi needs this matting.

    It has an extra-thick layer of rubber that cushions your entire body—seniors with weak joints would appreciate this feature. Plus, natural rubber stays firm and compact longer than synthetic options do. Old, squishy mats reduce joint impact, but they make it more challenging to balance your body.

    2. Best Resistance Bands: Vitality 4 Life Latex-Free Bands

    • $15 per set
    • Suitable for compound and isolation exercises
    • Limit resistance training to three times per week

    Most people use free weights for resistance training. However, older individuals might find them difficult or unsafe, especially those lacking in mobility. If you need a safer alternative, try the Vitality 4 Life Latex-Free Bands. You can use these bands just like dumbbells or kettlebells.

    3. Best Ankle and Wrist Weights: Foreva Fit Ankle and Wrist Combo

    • $40 per set
    • Ideal for isolation exercises
    • Limit resistance training no more than three days per week

    If you feel that kettlebells and dumbbells are too heavy, try ankle and wrist weights. You can use them for added resistance on a wide range of isolation exercises, from leg swings to bicep curls. Plus, Foreva Fit Ankle and Wrist weights have soft cushioning; seniors won't experience joint aches even after prolonged exercise.

    We discourage using ankle and wrist weights for cardio exercises. Walking with extra resistance requires excellent bone density and joint flexibility—both of which decline with old age.

    4. Best Dumbbells: FLYBIRD Adjustable Dumbbells

    • $110
    • Resistance for compound and isolation exercises
    • Limit resistance training to three times per week

    Are you against the idea of having multiple dumbbells in your home? Opt for adjustable dumbbells. You can adjust FLYBIRD dumbbells in intermittents of five; the max weight is at 25 pounds and its minimum is 5 pounds. Plus, they have high-quality grips, making them easy to grab despite sweaty hands.

    5. Best Exercise Bike: Marcy ME-709

    • $200
    • Bike riding improves cardiovascular health and improves leg muscle strength
    • Ride your exercise bike at least five to six times per week

    If you want a safer alternative to elliptical machines and treadmills, get a recumbent bike. The Marcy ME-709 is an affordable unit equipped with top-notch safety features. Mobility-impaired individuals can hop on and off the seat with minimal effort. Plus, those with good joint health can ride their recumbent bike every day since it's a relatively low-impact activity.

    Pro Tip: Should you get an upright exercise bike versus a recumbent bike? Seniors with prior bike riding experience and healthy joints can get upright exercise bikes. However, casual riders should stick to recumbent bikes.

    6. Best Elliptical Machine: Sole E25 Elliptical Machine

    • $1,000 to $2,000
    • Age-appropriate, whole-body cardio workout
    • Hop on the elliptical four to five times a week

    Buying an elliptical machine doesn't come cheap, but driving to the gym just to use the elliptical is downright wasteful. For a reliable, high-quality option, try the Sole E25. Its special-grade foot pedals reduce joint impact, and it has a built-in cooling fan that prevents dehydration. Plus, the whisper-quiet drive system on the E25 significantly reduces cycling noises.

    7. Best Rowing Machine: Concept2 RowErg

    • $1,000 to $1,500
    • Rowing works the back, lats, quads, and core
    • Perform rowing exercises three to four times every week

    Mobility-impaired seniors often have trouble using row machines because of the low seat height. Fortunately, Concept2 addressed this issue by raising the seat 20 inches from the floor and equipping the frame with a sturdy one-piece leg for stability.

    Plus, you can use your rowing machine for both strength and cardio training. Using your legs to row at a fast, steady speed stimulates blood flow and increases your heart rate; thus, turning the exercise into a whole-body cardio workout. Alternatively, keeping your legs fixed shifts the focus to the back muscles.

    When was the last time you traveled? Senior Strong shares that traveling yields as many health benefits as regular exercise does. Check out our full guide on traveling for aging adults.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Which is better for seniors, a treadmill or a bike?

    The treadmill can help burn more calories. However, if you're working out on one while recovering from another physical issue, then your body might actually need something lighter. Stationary bikes are great because they don’t burn calories at quite as fast of a rate but still provide greater strengthening benefits with less chance for injuries.

    How far should a 70-year-old walk every day?

    It has been found that older adults in good physical shape walk 2,000 to 9,000 steps daily. This is the equivalent of walking 1 to 4.5 miles respectively.

    How long should a senior ride a stationary bike?

    WHO recommends all healthy adults over 65 have an accumulated workout of 150 minutes per week; breaking it down to short periods of at least 10-minute sessions throughout the week. If you suffer from an illness or disability, it's best to speak with your physician about what exercise routine is best for you.

    Should seniors do lunges?

    Lunges are one of the best leg exercises for any age, but especially so for seniors. Lunges not only engage your core and abdominal muscles, but they also build your stability—which can in turn help when you move your hips up and down.

    Is walking 30 minutes a day enough exercise?

    Working out even for just 30 minutes a day is a way to increase your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones and build muscle. It can also reduce excess body fat as well as the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or osteoporosis.

    Which cardio is best for weight loss?

    You don't have to go on the elliptical every day for an hour in order to lose weight. If you're a beginner or have physical limitations, low-intensity cardio can also help you burn calories and drop pounds. These workouts include jogging, bicycling, power walking, swimming (especially if your doctor approves), and aerobics.

    Do resistance bands work?

    Resistance bands are a great workout tool not only because they're super affordable, transportable, and versatile, but because they can help target larger muscles as well as smaller stabilizing muscles.

    Seniors should consult with a licensed medical professional before engaging in moderate and vigorous workout routines—especially if they don't normally exercise. Abrupt lifestyle changes can do more harm than good. In the worst-case scenario, people with pre-existing complications might suffer from a life-threatening injury or emergency.

    Similarly, those who find themselves on the fence about which home workout programs to follow can consult a professional trainer. You need custom exercise options based on your fitness level, age, and overall health condition. For example, seniors with weak leg muscles cannot freely perform unassisted squats, while those who lack shoulder mobility should not blindly attempt weighted lateral raises.

    Senior Strong shares that a healthy senior lifestyle goes beyond anaerobic and cardio workouts. Check out our resources on staying active even as a senior.

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