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.
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.