7 Pieces of Exercise Equipment Ideal for a Senior’s Home Gym

Maintaining workout routines as you age requires understanding your capabilities and knowing the safety concerns that most affect you. You will want to choose low-impact, efficient, and relatively safe equipment for people at an increased risk of injury. Thankfully, manufacturers and fitness enthusiasts have been aware of senior concerns for decades, meaning there are plenty of equipment and program options available for all those individuals who want to maintain a current habit or start anew.

1. Elliptical

Cardio is an excellent way to burn calories and maintain mobility. While many people use treadmills in their daily workouts, seniors should try an elliptical — a stationary cardio machine that mimics the movements of walking or cross-country skiing. The elliptical is low-impact and integrates safety mechanisms into the exercise with arm levers, adjustable resistance, and heart rate monitoring.

2. Recumbent Bike (Stationary or Standard) 

Cycling is and has always been an excellent cardiovascular exercise. While a traditional bicycle or stationary bike is a perfect option for people of all ages, some seniors may struggle to get on and off it without risking injury.  

A recumbent bike eliminates the typical obstacles of a traditional setup with a chair-like design, lower configuration, and fewer obstacles when getting on or off. Recumbents come in both stationary and standard models. Fixed options are the best for people with balance or confidence concerns. However, the standard mobile option comes in two and three-wheeled designs.

3. Lat Pull-Down Machine

Rounded posture, aches, and unaligned backs often occur among seniors because of weakening muscles and decreasing back strength. A lat pull-down machine is an excellent tool for strengthening the upper back muscles.  

The exercise requires the user to be seated. You place both hands on the bar and pull it down, either in front or behind you. The weight can be adjusted to suit your current fitness level.

4. Stability Ball

As people age, balance can become a significant concern. Core muscles are responsible for not only balance but also posture. A stability ball provides a unique and productive experience for those looking to build core strength. Because the ball is low to the ground, there is minimal risk of injury. Additionally, seniors can use the exercise tool for more than balancing routines; stretching is also great to increase flexibility.

5. Rowing Machine

Another excellent tool for building core strength is the rowing machine. Through resistance, posture, and movement, the device helps strengthen the core; it is also a low-impact form of exercise and entirely customizable. You can choose the set amount, repetition, and appropriate pressure for your current capabilities, all while increasing your endurance, working your muscles, and improving your flexibility through repetitive stretching.

6. Yoga Mat

No one said your home gym had to be expensive. Yoga is a beneficial and life-affirming exercise program incorporating flexibility, mobility, balance, breathing, and mindfulness. The only piece of equipment required is a yoga mat, which is also beneficial for other floor exercises. Another excellent program for seniors is Pilates, which is like yoga.

7. Wrist or Ankle Weights

Are you looking for more of a challenge when jogging, walking, or using the elliptical? If so, consider wrist or ankle weights. They are very light — only one to three pounds — and can be worn or carried. The best thing is the weights add just enough resistance to a low-impact workout without adding so much to become cumbersome or add stress to the joints. 

Any of the above equipment would be excellent additions to a senior's home gym. However, only you know your current abilities, so be safe.

6 Home Remedies To Manage Arthritis Pain

Arthritis stems from one of two medical conditions: osteoarthritis — the degeneration of cartilage and bone — or rheumatoid arthritis — an autoimmune disease. While medical professionals can prescribe pain relievers and other medications to help combat symptoms, most suggest combining medicine and natural approaches for relief. There are several options for treating your arthritis at home without depending on prescriptions or over-the-counter products alone.

1. Exercise

Exercise can seem counterintuitive to those with arthritis because it involves impact and absorption at the joints. However, the appropriate form of exercise can promote flexibility while strengthening the fundamental muscles around affected bones and cartilage.   

When starting an exercise regimen, you should talk with your doctor about appropriate exercises, and you need to consider your current level of physical activity and health. People with arthritis will want to focus on low-impact workouts, which include:  

  • Cycling  
  • Walking  
  • Water activities  
  • Tai chi  
  • Yoga

2. Weight Management

Managing your weight can have a significant impact on your arthritis. The heavier you are, the more pressure you place on critical joints, including the knees, hips, and ankles. With degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, obesity can increase the rate of deterioration. The American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation suggests losing weight can have significant benefits on arthritic conditions, such as:  

  • Decreasing pain  
  • Improving mobility  
  • Preventing future damage  

Before delving into a weight loss journey, consult your primary physician to set goals. Your doctor can help determine a healthy target weight and design an effective program. 

3. Diet

As always, a healthy and balanced diet is the key to optimum health. A rich diet comprised primarily of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods can boost immune system strength and coordination. While there is evidence suggesting a strong correlation between rheumatoid arthritis and dietary choices, some studies also support the use of a diet to improve the lives of those with osteoarthritis.  

When assessing your current diet, there are several items to limit or stay away from, including processed foods, red meat, added sugars, saturated fats, and salt. As for the foods you want to include:  

  • Fatty fish (high in omega-3s)  
  • Turmeric dishes  
  • Tofu  
  • Edamame  
  • Dairy  
  • Broccoli  
  • Citrus fruits  
  • Nuts

4. Mindfulness

As a chronic pain condition, arthritis leads to stress, anxiety, and sometimes depression. The National Institutes of Health offer several studies and examples of how mindfulness can improve the mentality and physical condition of those with arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis.  

When you meditate, you help your body relax. When your body is relaxed, the brain has less need to produce fight-or-flight hormones, including cortisol — the stress hormone. Meditation, then, can inhibit the body's inflammatory responses by controlling unhelpful chemical reactions, potentially curbing arthritis pain.

5. Acupuncture

Practitioners of acupuncture — an ancient Chinese medical treatment — believe that inserting thin needles into precise locations on the body can help reroute energies and balance the body's meridians. With limited research-backed evidence, it is challenging to prescribe acupuncture as a definitive treatment for arthritis. Still, there is enough circumstantial evidence to suggest the practice can help some patients.

6. Herbal Supplements

While not backed by scientific research, some evidence suggests that herbs can help with arthritis symptoms. Some of the most popular herbs include:  

  • Ginko  
  • Bromelain  
  • Boswellia  
  • Thunder god vine  
  • Devil's claw  
  • Stinging nettle  

Arthritis is a chronic pain condition, but several home remedies and options can help relieve symptoms. If you are interested in trying one of the above methods to manage arthritis symptoms, talk to your doctor first. 

Do you have any suggestions for arthritis pain relief?

6 Reasons Why I Keep a Health Journal ( Every Senior Should)

A health journal is exactly what it sounds like: a diary for recording information about your health. Writing in it doesn’t take long, and the benefits are amazing. Aging doesn’t have to be some big mystery. Journaling about your health is like having a map to guide you to personal wellbeing.

1. Alleviates Inflammation and Pain

Some foods, movements or lifestyle habits make pain and inflammation worse. There are also good foods, such as turmeric, that have powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects for many seniors. The key is to figure out what helps and hurts you personally. That’s where your health diary comes in.

2. Teaches You What Your Body Likes

I’m a big believer in listening to your body. By keeping a health journal, you can find out if certain things are triggering mood changes, anxiety, pain or sleep problems. You can also discover positive triggers that help you sleep better, feel happier and stay healthier. For example, if you notice that valerian tea helps you sleep like a baby, then you’ve discovered an important secret for your health!

3. Makes You Happier

Natural foods and positive activities have the power to improve your mood. Many people feel less stressed or depressed when they follow a Mediterranean diet of fresh fish, lean meats, olive oil, fruit, herbs and lots of leafy green veggies. Exercising — even if it’s just going for a walk in the morning — can be another key to feeling happy and energized. Your health journal keeps track of things that help you wake up with a smile.

4. Helps You Make Smart Decisions About Your Health

I love my health journal. It turns me into a detective. After a few weeks or months, I can see “clues” that warn me when something is going to make my body hurt, make me irritable, or mess with my immune system. That way, I can avoid many of the aches and pains that are supposedly “normal” in aging.

5. Keeps You in Control of Aging

I don’t like it when people make decisions for me without asking me first, and I really don’t like feeling helpless. That’s what’s amazing about journaling. It gives you a measure of control over your health. Your family history may not let you avoid gout completely, but you can definitely figure out ways to have fewer gout attacks and better mobility.

6. Makes It Easier for Your Doctor To Pinpoint Health Problems

Always take your health diary with you when you have a doctor’s appointment. The details in there can help your doctor discover the underlying cause for symptoms. For example, instead of instantly responding to a rise in blood pressure with medication, the doctor may see lifestyle clues that you can change instead.

An Easy Way to Journal About Your Health

Keeping a health journal doesn’t need to be complicated. Some people prefer good old-fashioned pen and paper. Others use modern smartphone apps to make things easier. What should you keep track of?

  • Foods you eat (including snacks)
  • Vitamins or supplements
  • Medications
  • Amount of water you drink
  • Sleep quantity and quality
  • Exercise
  • Illnesses or health problems
  • Pain or inflammation
  • Energy levels
  • Mood
  • Digestive health and/or bowel habits

Don't forget to include details about surgeries or new treatments. Whatever works for you, I highly recommend getting into the habit of journaling about your health. It can help you stay active and feel great as you get older!

Staying Mobile Into Old Age

Mobility is something you need to maintain as you age. Failing to focus on your mobility and to take action to sustain it means increasing discomfort and limiting independence. While regaining mobility after significant losses is challenging, you can do it, and focusing on healthy habits before losing mobility can mean you reduce the amount of decline you experience.

Staying Active To Maintain Mobility

While there is little to be done to negate natural decline, there is a lot you can do to minimize the effects. Human biology is not designed for prolonged athleticism. Your body takes on a use-it-or-lose-it approach to function as you age, meaning you need to use it to prolong mobility.

One thing many seniors overestimate is how much physical activity is necessary to repair mobility or maintain it. Experts suggest that seniors receive at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, including walking. Additionally, you do not have to perform that 30 minutes consecutively. You can do 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon or evening.

The best way to fight decline is to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Get outside and walk. Go to the grocery store. If you can, take a yoga class. Stay active to stay healthy.

Visiting Your Doctor Shouldn’t Become Optional

Many people hate going to the doctor; the feeling can stem from a fear or anxiety issue. Visiting your doctor is one of those things that you should want to do. Granted, many people have bad memories about hospitals and doctors’ offices, but in the grand scheme, a physician is there to help improve your health and prevent future problems.

People who routinely visit with their doctors experience less preventable health disorders because these problems are typically caught early. Additionally, from a mobility standpoint, your doctor can address mobility issues early, potentially slowing or preventing significant decline.

Additionally, if you have been living a sedentary life for many years, you should speak to your physician before starting any program. Getting into a fitness regimen that your body is not ready for can do more damage than good. So, talk to a professional about where you should be starting.

Balancing and Bodyweight Exercises Might Be the Best Options

As people age, their balance tends to fade. Many seniors get into life-threatening situations because they become off-balance and fall. While medical alert devices can help and do provide life-saving services, it is best to avoid falling altogether.

Balancing and bodyweight exercises can help seniors maintain mobility, control, and confidence in their movements. Yoga, Pilates, and other activities are excellent forms of low-impact exercises that help older individuals maintain flexibility and mobility.

Finding Support and Motivation

Exercise is a challenge for anyone at any age. The primary difficulty is committing to the activity, so finding support through groups, family, or friends is often the best motivation. If you do not have family close by to support your newfound life goals, consider looking into senior centers in your area, many will offer exercise classes and groups.

Maintaining your mobility as you age should be a priority, and it essentially comes down to remaining active and healthy. Keep in touch with your doctor, find local groups, and focus on mental and physical wellness.

What are your best tips for maintaining mobility as you age?