Exercise Equipment for Seniors and Keeping a Healthy Heart


Exercise equipment has no age limit, and the idea that seniors need to go easy and light is a myth. Here’s a look at a variety of exercise equipment for seniors; plus, what seniors need to do to keep a healthy, youthful heart.

Study: Exercise for keeping a healthy heart at age 60 and up

A study of people 60 and older looked to determine how much exercise is needed to maintain a healthy heart. The study was published in The Journal of Physiology titled “The Effect of Lifelong Exercise Frequency on Arterial Stiffness.” Simply put, youthful hearts have less arterial stiffness. The study found that to minimize stiffening of the body’s middle-sized arteries, two to three days of exercise per week may be sufficient. However, to maximize the youthfulness of the body’s larger, central arteries, the minimum days of exercise per week is four, and five is better, US News reported.

Exercise equipment for seniors: What’s right may vary

There is a myth about seniors and exercise that needs to be dispelled. The most common misconception is that older adults need to take it easier, be cautious and go light, US News reports. Untrue. What exercise equipment is right for a particular senior is going to vary according to their own functional ability and whatever medical conditions each individual is dealing with. Here’s a look at various equipment and its advantages.

Strength training for seniors

1. Cable-based machines for strength training

Strength training is essential, but pumping iron by lifting weights may not be suitable for all seniors. Cable-based machines may be a better solution by offering resistance without the need to lift, balance, and hold heavy weights. These machines allow strength training for the major muscle areas such as arms, legs, back, and abdominals.

2. Free weights

While the aforementioned cable-based resistance machines are a good choice for many seniors, those without preventative physical limitations may do fine with the time-tested strength training of working out with free weights – at any age. The key is not overdoing it to avoid injury.

3. Resistance bands or tubes

For those who cannot lift weights or work with cable-based strength-training machines, using elastic resistance bands is an excellent way to work muscles. Experts say to get the most out of this type of strength training, make sure to use a resistance level that challenges you. If it’s too easy, it’s not benefiting you.

Cardio choices for seniors

Seniors have a variety of choices when it comes to exercise to improve cardiovascular health and aerobic capacity. The impact on your lower extremity joints (ankles, feet, knees, hips) is the biggest issue with activities such as running, jogging, or walking. The various exercise machines aren’t right for everyone, depending on their individual body conditions. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type of machine or activity…

1. Running outdoors

For those who don’t have certain limitations, the time-tested activity of outdoor running remains a good choice. Disadvantages would be obstacles and safety.

2. Low-impact treadmill

Treadmills are available today that are pressurized to reduce impact. These may be a good choice for in-home exercise.

3. Elliptical machine

Elliptical machines provide a similar level of cardio activity to running, jogging, or biking, but without the typical impact on your joints. Plus, you can exercise lower and upper extremities simultaneously. However, they still can put stress on feet, ankles, knees, and hips with prolonged activity.

4. Exercise bike

For those who can’t take the impact of running, jogging, or walking, an exercise bike can be the perfect way to engage in cardio activity.

5. Rowing machine

For those who can’t tolerate lower extremity stress, rowing machines are an alternative that focuses the activity on the upper body. However, these may not be tolerable for people with back conditions or upper extremity issues.

6. Upper extremity bike

Another alternative for people who can’t tolerate lower extremity exercise is tabletop bikes you pedal using your hands and arms, which can also be a good method of aerobic activity.