As we age, a regular exercise routine becomes more important than ever for staying mobile, strong, and healthy. There are tons of great senior-friendly workout equipment options out there that allow seniors to exercise safely and effectively.
Below, I've included exercise equipment suggestions with modifications and comforts that come to mind from my experiences with the seniors I've had the pleasure of working with throughout my fitness career.
1. Best Cardio Equipment for Seniors
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise completed throughout your week. This exercise could be completed with a variety of activities.
What's most important when selecting an activity is to focus on what you like to do and can do, as well as something that will elevate your heart rate past your normal resting heart rate.
If you are new to physical activity, I recommend starting light and slow. You can build in intensity as you feel comfortable and confident to do so.
Now that you know your goal intensity and time for exercise, it's time to decide what activity you'd like to do! Below, I've listed just a few traditional ways to increase your heart rate, and the fitness equipment you could use to achieve your movement goals.
1) Exercise Bikes for Seniors
Indoor exercise bikes are always a great choice for seniors. Most bikes offer a comfortable seat, as well as handlebars making them a more supportive and low impact cardio option that's easy on the joints. Below, I've listed two popular bike options for seniors.
For seniors who experience back pain, an upright bike may be a better option than a traditional stationary or cycle bike. What sets upright bikes apart, is the handlebars are closer to the rider, allowing the rider to stay in a neutral position, rather than feeling they need to bend to reach the handlebars.
SF-B2969 Evo-Fit Stationary Upright Bike
Here's one of my favorite upright bikes we offer. This bike puts users in a stacked, upright position, so they won't have to worry about moving or bending at the back while cycling.
If you or a senior you know struggles with balance, or the fear of falling, recumbent bikes are hands down the most accommodating bike you can find on the market.
Recumbent bikes offer a wide comfortable seat, and often handles both at your sides, and for support when mounting. The step-through design means you don't have to lift your leg to mount the bike.
Finally, the backrest provides support for your back, so if you deal with back pain or just want a more comfortable workout, a recumbent bike is a great choice.
SF-RB4954 Evo-Fit Cardio Recumbent Bike
If you're interested in a recumbent bike, this bike offers all the frills. While the wide variety of programs, and comfort features like a fan, Bluetooth speakers, and USB charging ports won't disappoint; this bike is incredibly sturdy and well-designed when it comes to comfort and support for the user, which checks all the boxes for me!
You may find this article helpful if you're interested in learning more about the difference between cycle bikes, upright bikes, and recumbent bikes and which is best for you.
2) Treadmills for Seniors
As a trainer, there are so many reasons I love adding walking to my client's regular routine. The first being, if you're able to walk, it's something you do every day. That means by choosing walking as your exercise, you're training to get stronger and better at something that will benefit you in everyday life.
Another reason to love walking is that it's considered a weight-bearing activity. Weight-bearing activities can help maintain and strengthen your bones, which can decrease seniors' fear or risk of bone fractures.
Treadmills are a great option for making walking accessible to those in the comfort of their home. They are great for reducing the effect of outdoor elements, as well as reducing the impact on the joints in comparison to walking on harder surfaces like cement or pavement.
Treadmills are great for those interested in a traditional walking routine in the comfort of their home. For seniors, choosing a treadmill with handlebars for safety and comfort is always a good idea.
Motorized treadmills are great for those who are interested in a traditional walking routine, with the ability to make speed and incline changes effortlessly.
SF-T7857 Recovery Walking Treadmill
For those recovering from an injury or who have trouble walking on their own, this recovery walking treadmill is a great option. The extended handlebars will provide comfort and build confidence when walking.
Manual treadmills are a fun option for seniors who enjoy a challenge and being in control of their workout. A manual treadmill moves by the force of each step the user puts into it.
When using a manual treadmill, it's up to you to keep it moving. Manual treadmills provide a resistance to be pushed against, which can help to build strength in the lower body with each step.
SF-T7723 Manual Treadmill
This manual treadmill offers a spacious handrail for support while walking. One thing I love about it is that it offers 16 levels of resistance, which means you can make your workout harder as you get stronger to continue to challenge your fitness.
3) Compact/Under Desk Fitness Equipment for Seniors
For seniors tight on space for fitness equipment, or those just looking to break out of a sedentary lifestyle - an under-desk bike or elliptical is a great option. These compact machines make it easy to work out under a desk or table or in front of a sofa. Just position and pedal away!
SF-E3872 Under Desk Elliptical
While both under desk bikes and ellipticals are great for seniors, I've found many seniors enjoy the under desk ellipticals. They provide a larger, supportive footplate that can be more comfortable on the foot while pedaling.
2. Best Strength Equipment for Seniors
Seniors are capable of building and maintaining muscle mass, which will help increase metabolism, as well as improve regular function. It's recommended for seniors to strength training a minimum of 2 days per week to see progress from their strength training routine.
Ideally, exercises for seniors should be functionally based, or catered to improve strength and movement quality throughout regular daily activities. For example, carrying laundry, sweeping the floor, or climbing the stairs.
This makes a simple strength routine using dumbbells or bodyweight, completing simple moves like pushing and pulling movements, such as incline pushups, bench squats, or rows a great option for seniors.
1) Free Weights
For seniors looking to increase and build strength, free weights are an affordable option. I recommend starting with a lighter weight and increasing only as you feel comfortable and ready. Often, a few light sets of dumbbells are all you need to get a great workout!
NO. 021-PAIR Neoprene Dumbbells
These dumbbells come in 2, 5, 8, and 10LBs. Start light and work your way up as you build strength. There is no limit to the number of exercises and strength one can build when using dumbbells as a part of their regular strength training routine.
SF-BH6996 Power Zone Flat Strength Bench
A bench is a great accessory for strength training at home. What I love about adding a bench into a senior strength training program - is it provides a solid base for a variety of exercise modifications that can help seniors train more safely and effectively.
For example, many seniors may not be ready to complete a classic squat, but they usually are ready to practice squats using a bench or chair to sit on. This effectively mimics sitting in a chair, a movement many seniors do daily.
A bench is a great surface to complete bench squats and many other modified exercises that are perfect for a senior strength training routine!
For seniors interested in increasing strength, but who may prefer some assistance, the Row-N-Ride is an awesome machine. While many tend to assume the Row-N-Ride is for a younger audience, I've talked to tons of seniors who are using and enjoying their Row-N-Ride machines regularly!
The Row-N-Ride is a machine designed for squats and rows, two compound movements that are used frequently in our daily life. Due to the supportive seat, and handlebar the Row-N-Ride allows users to complete assisted squats from the safety of their home.
NO. 077 Upright Row-N-Ride® Rowing Machine
Our original Upright Row-N-Ride Rowing Machine can be used as a squat assist and upright rowing machine, to help seniors build strength in their lower body, core, and upper body.
I hope this senior friendly exercise equipment guide was useful in helping you find ideas and discover ways to stay fit and healthy through the physical and mental changes you may experience during your elder years.
A final piece of advice I'll leave you with is to remember that 'staying healthy' means something different to everyone. So, aim to establish a routine filled with activities you enjoy doing, even if they're non-traditional.
By staying true to yourself, your fitness routine can be a fun part of your day that you look forward to. An exercise routine that you enjoy, is one that you'll stick with!