Maybe you’re a beginner exerciser considering getting into a new routine, or you’ve been an avid exerciser for years but looking for a change in your routine. Perhaps you’ve suffered an injury or, over the years, acquired bad knees, 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, you should also ask and discover 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.
After your doctor clears you for exercise, what type of exercise equipment are you 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.
Like anyone, you want to consider the space you have available for exercise equipment. If you have a small space, you probably don’t want to get a full-size weight machine. However, you can look for something with smaller dimensions or other equipment to give you similar benefits, such as barbells and dumbbells.
There are options available that make some exercise equipment portable. For instance, a recumbent bike with transport wheels makes it feasible to move it from room to room. Other exercise equipment you can fold, some treadmills have this option. Folding it allows for it to take up less space when not in use.
Make It Easier on Yourself – Do What You Like
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 by 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.
Exercise To Consider
When you’re putting together your equipment and exercise routine, you want to include:
- Cardio – works your heart.
- Weight-bearing is aerobic activity while standing up using your feet and your bones supporting your weight. Some examples of how you can achieve this are walking, using elliptical machines, and steppers, among other activities.
- Weight-training helps build muscle while making you stronger.
Cardio and weight-training make a great combination when it comes to weight loss. While weight-training will help you from losing muscle, cardio will burn extra calories.
You also want to work your total body. You don’t want to only work your legs and then have no upper body definition or strength. The opposite is also true; you don’t want to work just your arms, back, and abs and have an undefined, weak lower body. Look for a routine that will give your body a complete workout.
Best Cardio Exercise 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 what 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 weight-bearing workout while walking that will help with bone density. As you experience an increase in heart rate, you get a cardio workout. Your legs and glutes get worked and gain strength.
As you progress, you can increase the speed and 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.
If you are experiencing hip or knee pain, the elliptical might be a good choice for you.
Exercising on an elliptical is a non-impact activity as your feet stay planted on the pads.
Besides a cardio workout from a rise in heart rate, your legs and glutes get a workout.
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 stepper, your movement mimics going upstairs, but your feet stay planted.
With a stepping machine, you will be able to achieve a moderate to high-intensity cardio workout.
The stepping machine mainly works your legs and glutes. Since your arms aren’t moving, be sure to get some arm work in as well.
The rowing machine gives an excellent full-body workout.
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 motorized cardio machines, the rower uses your legs to speed up or slow down the workout.
Choices to consider when looking for a bike are: do you want to ride outdoors or inside.
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 and can give you a cardio workout.
I’ve written a few other posts on bikes you might be interested in reading:
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 and barbells) include:
Promoting a good range of motion that will help keep you in 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 putting on or taking off weights as you do with a barbell.
You can achieve a full-body strength workout with a weight machine.
Working out with dumbbells allows you to stabilize muscles. For instance, if you’re using dumbbells to perform a bicep curl, you should engage your core to stabilize yourself; a machine isn’t doing it for you.
- 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 those (maybe you can do a heavier weight on your right side than on your left side).
To decrease the risk of injury, you do need to be careful that your form is correct.
If using dumbbells for your strength training, you will need to buy multiple pairs. You usually need lighter weights for shoulder work and other small muscles while heavier weights for the chest, legs, and larger muscles. You will also need to have heavier weights as you progress and get stronger.
I included the barbell in this article because so many people, mostly men but becoming more popular among women, are fans of barbell training. Barbells have been around for weight lifting for well over a hundred years. And though they have been around for a long time, they are often misused with poor form, leading to injuries. Also, the barbell can put stress on the body as the weight is increased. However, I have and still use barbells. Though, they probably wouldn’t be my first choice for beginners because of the risk of injury.
Barbells are used mainly for the purpose of weight training though you can get a cardio workout as well.
Just about every muscle in the body can be worked with a barbell.
My Barbell Story
Though there are some exercises you can do safely with a barbell, you’ll want to be sure you have a spotter for other exercises. I have a story that could have turned out much worse than it did.
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.). After doing many sets, I was done and was setting the barbell behind me on the rack. And then it happened; I missed, and the barbell came down on my neck. Completely 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, came over, and lifted the barbell off me. I ended up with a bruised face and ego, but luckily for me, it didn’t turn out worse. Some people 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 as 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 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
Resistance bands can be used both if you’re a beginner or a more advanced exerciser.
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 as they don’t take up much space. They can also be used while sitting in a chair if you don’t have the balance or ability to stand while using them.
Recently they had hula hoops at my work at 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 you will find enjoyable.
Remember, as we get older, we lose muscle mass, and exercise helps slow down the process.
Exercise also plays an important benefit for heart health and weight – although nutrition plays a big part.
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 just as important, something that you will actually use.
Do you have a favorite piece of exercise equipment? I would love to hear. Comment below.