It’s no secret – exercise is good for you. It’s good for you body. It’s good for your mind.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a fitness model to be healthy! And you don’t need a gym membership either (although it can be a good excuse to get out of the house!).
For seniors, exercising could be more than just a way to stay happy and healthy. It can also be a way to fight diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and even Alzheimer’s. It can also help prevent things like falls from balance issues, or arthritis, and depression.
Whew! That’s a lot.
So what’s the best exercise equipment to get the job done?
Obviously, there’s a lot to choose from at the gym, but we wanted to stick to the essentials on this page so you could find equipment can buy online to exercise in your own home as well. Don’t worry – you’re not going to need a squat rack or bench press in your garage!
The great thing about dumbbells is that anyone can lift them. They come in a variety of weights ranging from light 2-pound options to heavier 5-pound and 10-pound designs all the way up to 15-pound and 20-pound free weights. Seniors can lift free weights to increase arm strength and flexibility.
Using dumbbells can also reduce the risk of fractures, which is a common problem for seniors with bones that are becoming brittle. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your medical issues are; anyone can benefit from lifting dumbbells.
The loss of muscle mass as you age is a serious issue that can contribute to multiple other health issues. Using free weights can halt the loss of muscle and avoid conditions like osteoporosis. Another upside to working out? It keeps your mind sharp, too.
These days, lifting weights is easier than ever for seniors because you can buy dumbbells that adjust to different weights with the twist of a button. This makes it easy for seniors to reduce or add weight to fit their needs. As your endurance picks up and you become stronger, you can add more weight.
Strengthen bone density, add muscle, increase mobility, and do an extensive range of exercises with these versatile weights. They don’t take up much space in your home, and you can work all types of muscle groups at the same time, decreasing the need for many types of equipment.
Another perk of using dumbbells is that you don’t have to be a pro at using gym equipment; they’re great for beginners who are just starting on a fitness journey. Now is as good a time as any!
Though there are a number of other ways to practice resistance training, dumbbells are the most basic and simplest way to add muscle mass without a high risk of injury. Lose weight, manage pain, and add bone density with dumbbells; try neoprene dumbbells for an easy grip.
Kettlebells are another option that you can lift and provide many of the same benefits as dumbbells.
And hey, if you do enough dumbbell exercises, you can look like these two!
Just kidding LOL. This was just a fun stock photo I found. These two are obviously fitness models working on their hot bods for years to achieve that.
For seniors who want to stay in shape, low-impact exercise is often the best solution. Using an exercise bike has many benefits, and gets the heart pumping without overexerting yourself.
Riding a stationary bike can increase heart health and keep your cardio system in tip-top shape. It’s also comfortable and easy. Most bikes offer back and body support so you aren’t in pain as you ride. You can turn on the TV, listen to music, or tune in to an audiobook while you pedal.
You may find that you enjoy the versatility of a fitness bike. You can tweak the settings to add or reduce resistance, you can keep up with how many miles you ride and how fast you’re going so you can track your workouts, and, if you purchase a folding bike, you can save space.
Keep an eye on your pulse as you ride so you don’t overdo it. The benefits of biking are many, and if you’ve never been a gym person, you may find that this is an enjoyable way to exercise that doesn’t feel overwhelming or difficult.
Some perks of using a bike include working your joints so they stay flexible, increasing your circulation, and reducing pain from conditions like arthritis.
If you already have a condition like osteoporosis, don’t avoid biking. Get on the bike to help reduce your pain and inflammation. If you keep moving, you may find your pain lessening. Riding a stationary bike is also good for your back.
When you are sedentary, you increase the risk for pain, but even riding for half an hour a few times a week can change how you feel. Choose a bike that is easy to operate and has hand bars for extra support should you need it. Make sure the seat and back support are padded and comfortable.
You may have seen resistance bands but you aren’t sure exactly what to do with them. Resistance bands are a great way to build strength slowly when you are a senior, especially if you’re in a space like assisted living where you don’t have much room for equipment.
These flexible and stretchy bands provide a simple way for you to build up strength. Studies have shown that the bands are a useful way for seniors to increase muscle mass. If you vary your workout with resistance bands, you can not only add strength but work on balance too, which becomes compromised as we get older.
Using resistance bands can be as challenging or as easy as you like. You can buy bands in different levels of resistance for a customized workout. If you have never exercised before and you’re dipping your feet into fitness, resistance bands are a perfect starting point.
Some of the exercises you can do with a resistance band include squats, bicep curls, tricep presses, and chest presses. You can also use resistance bands to engage in physical therapy. Stretching with bands is a great way to warm up muscles after injury or surgery in a safe and effective way.
Add 20 minutes of strength training to your workout twice a week, and that’s all you need to help you stay active, independent, and avoid accidents like falling. You don’t need to go to a gym to use resistance bands, simply toss them in a drawer when you aren’t using them and work out in the comfort of your home when you desire.
Bands are also portable. Work out your upper and lower body without added stress to your muscles when you use resistance bands, and maintain your independence for longer.
Many seniors enjoy walking. That makes a treadmill a wonderful piece to add to your home gym. If you have always liked walking outside but you don’t feel like venturing out anymore, get the same benefits when you hop on the treadmill.
You can make your walk as low-impact as you like, and adjust settings to the proper speed and incline for you. An emergency stop button makes using a treadmill safer for seniors, and plenty of monitors let seniors keep an eye on their activity level to make sure it stays in the safe zone.
Turn on the news or watch a movie while you work out, and the time will fly by. You may find yourself looking forward to walking because it feels good to move your body. If you’re worried about your joints, you’ll be glad to know that today’s treadmills are made with added perks, such as pressurized designs that take your joints into consideration.
There’s always the option to run on a treadmill, too, if you enjoy jogging. Walking or jogging are simple but effective ways to increase heart health without engaging in high-impact, unsafe exercise that can inflame your joints or add pain.
Walking keeps you flexible, and you can keep up with everything from your pulse rate to how many calories you’ve burned on modern machines. Some treadmills have built-in workout programs if you’re not sure how to get the maximum effect from your treadmill.
Whether you had surgery and need to walk, want to strengthen arthritic joints, or want to work out without adding impact to your knees and back, a treadmill is the way to go.
Purchase a folding treadmill if you’re short on space. Once your workout is done, flip it up and roll it out of the way, or slide it under your bed to keep it out of sight.
Feel like you enjoy walking but you want to do more for your body, and you’re ready? Add wrist weights to your walking workout to build up arms while you walk.
Have you noticed as you age that your sense of balance isn’t what it used to be? You may have always been poised but now notice yourself tripping over your own feet. Using a balance ball can help you retain a solid sense of balance and work out your core while improving coordination.
Balance balls are also lightweight and easy to handle. Using a balance ball, you can increase your strength. Some of the exercises you can do with one of these include leg lifts, marches, walks, squats, and hip circles.
If you’re not familiar with all of these exercises, there are many videos on YouTube geared towards seniors that can help you learn, then you can exercise on your own. One of these programs is called Silver Sneakers.
If you are worried you will fall, you can always start out using a balance ball that’s propped up against the wall. Once you feel confident, move the ball away from the wall. With the same idea in mind, you can also use an agility ladder. These are all designed to help you regain control of your body and avoid unnecessary accidents.
Gain a wider range of motion, improve balance, tone major muscle groups, and feel more grounded when you use a stability ball. If you have poor posture, the ball can perk it up! You’ll also burn calories and alleviate pains, such as an achy back.
Choose a ball that’s right for your height. For instance, a 45 cm ball works if you are under 5 feet tall, but if you are between 5 feet and 5-foot-5, you’ll want a 55 cm ball. Purchase a ball that comes with a pump so you can air up a ball that goes flat and you don’t have to miss your workout.
Learn More About Exercise Equipment For Seniors
Gym equipment for seniors is a great way to keep using muscles as you age. Since many health problems are associated with living a sedentary lifestyle, working out can keep things like diabetes away. It can also reduce the risk of bone breaks and fractures, alleviate pain, keep you flexible and strong, and ensure a mobile life.
A fitness program can be very beneficial for seniors. Staying strong can keep you from having to depend on others for your care. It can also contribute to a happier mood, better sleep, and stronger immune system.
Since you may associate gym equipment with a high-impact workout, but that’s not always the case. That’s why you should focus on which types of equipment work best for people over the age of 55. Many seniors already enjoy moving around, so low-impact exercise is a great way to do that safely and easily.
You don’t need a lot of money or space to exercise. Many people enjoy the portability of things like resistance bands and dumbbells. Living in a small space doesn’t have to be an excuse for not working out.
If you aren’t sure what exercises to do, it’s always best to check with your doctor before you begin. Then, you can look up workouts on YouTube and follow along, such as Silver Sneakers videos, or buy an exercise video or DVD that’s geared towards senior workouts so you exercise correctly and safely.
The Surgeon General states that it only takes a moderate amount of activity for seniors to reap the benefits, so keep in mind you don’t have to work out every day or for long periods of time. Exercising for 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week can be enough activity to do the trick.
What to Consider When Choosing Exercise Equipment
There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking for the right exercise equipment for your individual needs. Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot or buy brand-new, fancy gym equipment to get the bonuses your body requires from exercise.
This is a big one. You may think you can’t afford to exercise because of the high price tag of fitness equipment. However, if you are on a fixed income or an extremely tight budget, there are still ways you can purchase exercise accessories.
Besides reaching for affordable workout options, another way to spend less is by buying used equipment. Many people sell their hardly-used treadmills or fitness bikes because they just don’t use them.
Keep an eye on sales, too. Around the holidays you may be able to get a new bike for a discounted price.
Level of Fitness
You’re not going to hop on a treadmill and jog a mile if you have never before exercised or done so sparingly. Keep your experience in mind and take it slow. Work up to higher-impact exercises and being with something low-impact and simple to learn.
Once you have mastered easier equipment, move up to something a little more complex. Go easy on yourself. Every type of workout has benefits, even if it feels like you aren’t doing much or aren’t doing enough, you are!
Space in Your Place
Let’s face it, you live in a teeny tiny apartment, or you live with your son and his wife. You may not have a lot of room to enjoy a full-sized piece of gym equipment. Keep this in mind as you shop; there are still ways to work your body without taking up much room.
If you have a condition that prevents you from doing specific exercises, you don’t want to injure yourself. It’s best to avoid anything that will put unnecessary strain on painful parts. For instance, if you have injured knees or debilitating arthritis, stay off the treadmill.
Support and Safety
When you’re looking at pieces like treadmills, fitness bikes, and any other large piece of gym equipment, take note of how supportive they are. Some exercise bikes don’t offer enough support. It’s worth it to purchase a bike or treadmill that has easy to grip handlebars, back support, and a cushioned, comfortable seat.
Make sure you can sit on it for up to 30 minutes without discomfort. Check for safety features like an easy stop button or a belt you can clip on while you walk or ride.
Exercising should be fun, but it should also be safe, so keep the support your body needs at the top of your priority list when shopping for gym equipment.
Which Type of Exercise Equipment Should You Buy?
Now that you know the basics about some of the best ways for seniors to work out, it’s time to narrow down your options. Which type of workout is best for you?
Are you living in an extremely small space and you don’t have room for a treadmill, but you still want to exercise? Opt for resistance bands, kettle bells, or dumbbells. A jump rope is also a great way to get a cardiovascular workout and hardly takes up any space.
Do you have very limited funds? Choose something cheap, like a balance ball or resistance bands. You could also get a pair of free weights for under $10 or a jump rope!
Suffering from arthritis or some other painful illness and don’t want to hurt yourself more by exercising? An exercise bike or an elliptical are good choices that aren’t hard on your knees or joints.
Finding yourself less graceful than you used to be? A balance ball comes to the rescue and helps you improve your coordination and minimize falls.
Are you a newbie that’s never stepped inside a gym? You may want to start off building strength with dumbbells or resistance bands before you feel sure enough to step on the treadmill.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m scared to work out. What if I get hurt?
The point of exercise is to make you stronger so you won’t get hurt in everyday situations. If you are afraid at first, get a friend or family member to exercise with you and show you the ropes. Consistent exercise will make you feel more confident and actually reduce the risk of falls and other accidents.
Do I have to exercise every day? What if I don’t have time?
No, you don’t have to work out every single day. In fact, exercising for 20 minutes just twice a week can make a difference! Hop on the treadmill while you watch your favorite show and you won’t even notice you’re exercising.
I don’t have workout clothes. What should I wear?
You don’t need to wear anything special when you exercise. Just be comfortable. The most important thing is that you have a pair of shoes that fit you and offer support.
Will I get too buff if I lift weights?
No, you won’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger by lifting a 5-pound dumbbell. When you do repetitive exercises lifting the appropriate amount of weight, you’re simply building lean muscle, not becoming buff. Don’t worry!
How can I afford a treadmill? They are too costly for my budget.
You don’t have to have a treadmill to walk. You could always buy a Fitbit to track your steps and walk around the block instead or at the park. Or, you can look at used treadmills. Chances are, you probably know someone that has one sitting in their house unused!
You can also start with something inexpensive like resistance bands.
Should I focus on a cardiovascular workout? How will low-impact help me?
Working your cardio is a byproduct of exercising, but as a senior, it’s not your biggest focus. What helps seniors the most is building strength gradually. Low-impact exercises are the best way for seniors to build strength safely. You’ll still get all the benefits of a workout, without the wear and tear on your brittle bones and joints.
I don’t think workouts are fun. How can I motivate myself?
Once you feel and see results, you’ll feel motivated. Until you reap the rewards of fitness, grab a workout buddy. The best way to feel encouraged is to have a friend to keep you pumped up, and you can do the same for them.
How can I exercise if I am depressed?
Depression is common when you’re any age, but it can be prevalent among older adults. Did you know that regular exercise can alleviate depression and actually make you happy? Try it and see!
Which dumbbell do I pick?
You should never use a weight that is too heavy for you to hold. Start off with the lightest, then as your strength increases, you can move up. This is where adjustable weights come in handy, too.
I’m handicapped. Can I still exercise?
Yes! Talk to your doctor about what would be best for you. However, if you are in a wheelchair, build up your arms with bands and weights. Everyone can benefit from some type of physical activity.