Maybe you’re considering getting into a new exercise routine, or you’ve been an avid exerciser for years but looking for a change in your routine. Perhaps you’ve suffered an injury, and now you’re not able to do what you once enjoyed. If any of these or other life scenarios have happened, you may be contemplating getting some new exercise equipment. If you are over a certain age, then you should also ask and discover what’s the best exercise equipment for seniors.
What To Consider When Buying Exercise Equipment as a Senior
Before running out or shopping online for new exercise equipment, you first need to get cleared for exercise from your doctor. You’ll want to consider what limitations you have. By having an appointment with your doctor, you can find what he does and does not want you to do. Do you have knee issues or maybe your balance is lacking, or you may have other health issues. Discuss, discuss, discuss with your doctor before embarking on any new exercise routine and find out what you are cleared for and what you are not.
So now that you’re have been cleared by your doctor, what type of exercise equipment are you’re interested in? With so many options, it can become overwhelming. By reading this article and doing some research, I’m sure you will be able to find the perfect equipment for your particular situation.
When I look for new exercise equipment, I look for something I think I would enjoy and stick with. If I don’t like yoga, I don’t want to buy yoga equipment. If I loathe riding a bike well, then I’m not going to try to talk myself into liking it.
Exercise can be challenging, so why make it more so with doing something you don’t like. There are so many options; maybe you like walking or biking, running, or lifting weights, then that would be a good place for you to start.
As you get more acclimated to exercise, you might want to try something you thought you wouldn’t like but start with something you think you will enjoy – there are so many options.
When you’re are putting together your equipment and exercise routine, you want to not only get in cardio (exercise that works your heart) but also weight-bearing that will make bones stronger and weights to make your muscles stronger and to build muscle.
You may not know, but after the age of 30, we can lose as much as 3%-5% in muscle mass. This loss of muscle mass is referred to as sarcopenia. Lifting weights and strength training helps with this muscle loss.
Best Cardio Equipment for Seniors
Do you enjoy walking? If so, you might want to look into getting a treadmill. When the weather isn’t good outside, either it’s too hot or too cold, the treadmill allows you to get your exercise in no matter the weather. If there is more than one person in the household, each can work out to their ability. No one is slowing down or speeding up to synchronize with their partner.
What will a treadmill workout give you? You get a low impact workout while walking that will help with bone density. You also get a cardio workout as you experience an increase in heart rate. Your legs and glutes get worked and gain strength.
As you progress, you can increase the speed and also the incline to get a more intense workout. If you do decide to jog or run, the exercise changes from low impact to high impact.
Though a treadmill be can be pricy, it can last for years, and as you get more proficient, the treadmill allows you to progress without having to buy a different model.
Exercising on an elliptical is a non-impact activity as your feet stay planted on the pads.
In addition to a cardio workout from a rise in heart rate, your legs and glutes get a workout.
Also, many ellipticals come with moving arm levers that contribute to working your arms, chest, abs, and back, giving you an all-body workout.
Like the treadmill, you can increase the speed and incline for a more intense workout.
With a stepping machine, you will be able to achieve a moderate to a high-intensity aerobic workout.
The stepping machine mainly works your legs and gluts. Since your arms aren’t moving, be sure to get some arm work in as well.
With the rowing motion, the arms, back, core, glutes, and leg muscles are used.
In addition to these muscles, it’s also a great cardio workout and is low impact.
The rower usually has a resistance lever to make it harder or easier to row.
Unlike other cardio machines that are motorized, the rower uses your legs to speed up or slow down the workout. This can be good for some people that like that control, but also you can slow down without the motivation of the machine that keeps you going along.
When the weather is beautiful, biking outside is a nice workout, and you’re getting fresh air.
An inside bike, or stationary bike, is a good alternative that you can use no matter what the weather, and you might feel safer if you’re living in a busy city.
A bike workout will work your glutes and legs.
I wrote an article, “Bike and Seniors – I Bet You Haven’t Forgotten How” that goes in-depth with the different types of bikes available. You can view the material by clicking here.
Best Weights for Strength Training for Seniors
Though cardio is a crucial component of a workout routine, don’t forget to incorporate weights. As stated above, weights help in the prevention of muscle loss. Let’s take a look at some weight equipment.
For this article, I’m using the words weight machine as a generic term that refers to a single or multi-station machine that you use for a strength training/weight workout.
A few advantages to a weight machine over free weights (dumbbells barbells) include:
- Promoting a proper range of motion that will help keep you in the correct form.
- Safety and being able to use the machine without a spotter. However, like free weights, you want to be sure to concentrate on your form to be sure you’re doing the exercises correctly.
- Another advantage is you can switch weight rather quickly by inserting the pin in a different hole instead of taking off and on weights from a barbell.
You can achieve a full-body strength workout with a weight machine.
Your core consists of the muscles that make up your midsection (without getting too clinical your abs, obliques, or sides and back).
Dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion than a weight machine.
You can pinpoint imbalances in your body and work on that (maybe you can do a heavier weight on your right side than on your left side).
You do need to be careful that your form is correct to decrease the risk of injury.
If using dumbbells for your strength training, you’re will need to buy multiple pairs. You usually need lighter weights for shoulder work and other small muscles while heavier for the chest, legs, and larger muscles. You will also need to have heavier weights as you progress and get stronger.
Many years ago, I was working out at the gym by myself. I was doing a bench press (where you’re on a bench with a barbell and moving it to where your arms are fully extended and then down to your chest and back up etc. I had done a lot of sets, and when I was done, I tried to rack the barbell behind me on the rack. I missed, and the barbell came down on my neck. I was so fatigued I didn’t have much strength and could only manage to move it up onto my face. Finally, a man noticed what I had done and came over and lifted the barbell off of me. I ended up with a bruised face and ego, but luckily for me, it didn’t turn out worse. There are people who have died from a barbell coming down on them, so I plead with you to NEVER, EVER use a barbell for this and other exercises without a spotter. To this day, I’m gun shy when doing a bench press, and I always have a spotter. It’s so important to have someone there with you, so if you run into trouble as I did, there will be someone there to help.
Kettlebells, I see more of an add on to your other weight workouts. They are suitable for cardio and strength training, but I find I don’t get a complete workout with them – I use them to mix things up a bit and add variety.
There is a learning curve with kettlebells, so I suggest if you’re new to weight training and are deciding between dumbbells and kettlebells, I would start with dumbbells first.
Miscellaneous Exercise Equipment for Seniors
I use them much the same way as the kettlebell more of an add on to other workouts to add variety.
Bands come in different tensions, usually noted by the difference in thickness and or color.
Resistance bands are pretty price friendly and are good to take on the road with you’re as they don’t take up much space.
Recently they had some at my work when they had a luau activity, and I have to say I bombed – it seemed effortless as a kid. It was fun, though, and I’ve been thinking of buying one – I can see it being fun but not sure I’ll get a great workout from it, but I’ll keep you posted.
At the End of the Day –
With all the different types of exercise equipment, you can surely find one that you will find enjoyable.
Remember, as we get older, we lose muscle mass, and exercise is the remedy for that.
Exercise also plays an important benefit for heart health as well as weight – though nutrition plays a big part as well.
Remember, always have a spotter when using a barbell.
At the end of the day, what is the best exercise equipment for seniors – it’s what you can use to exercise effectively and safely, and almost as important something that you’ll actually use.
Do you have a favorite piece of exercise equipment? I would love to hear. Comment below.