Exercise for seniors is extremely important, but that doesn’t mean it’s always comfortable or fun 🙁
Getting the right exercise equipment, though, can go a long way toward keeping you safe and comfortable as you get in shape. Elliptical machines are ideal for seniors for exactly that reason - they’re safe, easy on the joints, and provide a great workout.
Check out the best elliptical machines for seniors in our complete guide below, and learn more about how these often-overlooked exercise machines can help you!
What is an Elliptical Machine?
Elliptical machines were born out of a desire to create an alternative to treadmills for indoor cardiovascular exercise. Treadmills are helpful for people of all ages, but they can wear down the cartilage in people’s knees over time. Ellipticals give you roughly the same workout, but preserve your knees much, much better.
These machines got their name from the shape drawn by the motion of your legs and the machine together. Your feet will never leave the machine platform, because it moves with you in an “elliptical” shape. Your body will be moving in a way that is similar to running, but without the sharp impact of every step as your foot hits the ground.
Because the elliptical machine moves with you, you will feel as though you are gliding more than running. This makes elliptical machines an excellent, low-impact exercise for seniors.
Are Elliptical Machines Safe for Seniors?
No machine is completely safe; if you have medical problems that make exercise difficult or risky, you should consult with your doctor before choosing a type of exercise to engage in. That said, however, elliptical machines are regarded as being among the safest exercise machines for people of all ages, especially seniors.
Why is that the case? Because elliptical machines remove the jarring impact of running, they’re much safer for knee, ankle, and hip joints than treadmills. Much like a bicycle or recumbent bike, elliptical machines preserve your joint health while simultaneously strengthening the muscles around them.
Elliptical machines also come without one of the obviously riskier aspects of treadmill running. Treadmills have a constantly moving track that will keep running at the same speed, regardless of whether you can keep up or if you need a break. This leads to many falls and accidents, not just among seniors but people of any age. Ellipticals are manually-powered, which means you’ll never find yourself in a situation where you are going too fast and cannot stop yourself.
Benefits of Seniors Using Elliptical Machines
Elliptical training is a great way to get cardiovascular exercise, which is crucial for overall health and longevity. It is recommended that you get 150 minutes of exercise each week, equivalent to about 30 minutes 5 times per week. Getting some or all of those minutes on an elliptical machine gets your blood pumping, strengthening your heart and reducing your risk of heart attacks and heart disease.
Elliptical machines have handlebars that you use both for stability and to work out your arms. Training with an elliptical means that your arms can get some of the same strengthening and toning benefits as your legs. The adjustable difficulty levels of elliptical machines make it easy to dial up the intensity to burn your arm muscles and lower it back down to continue your cardio workout.
Physical Therapy/ Recovery from Injury
Exercising with an elliptical is a great way to stay in shape, but it’s also ideal for rehabilitation. One study found that elliptical training was more effective than treadmill walking in helping people train their bodies to recover from an injury and re-learn proper walking mechanics.
How Often Should Seniors Use an Elliptical Machine?
As noted above, the general recommendation for exercise is to aim for 150 minutes per week or five 30-minute sessions. If you haven’t exercised in a few years, it’s probably better to start small and work your way up. 15 minutes of exercise is good enough to get your body moving and knock off some of the rust without overdoing it; over time, you can build up your endurance and muscular stamina to get to 30 minutes.
If you’re already in good shape, it shouldn’t bother you to extend those workouts beyond thirty minutes, even up to an hour. As always, you should consult with your doctor to get a more specific recommendation if you are concerned about your health or readiness to exercise.
Safety Tips for Seniors Using Elliptical Machines (How to Avoid Injury)
The 6 Best Elliptical Machines for the Elderly
1. Best Elliptical Machine for Seniors (Overall): Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine
Schwinn, the maker of some of the world’s most popular bicycles, also sells a line of high-quality exercise machines. The 430 Elliptical has 20 different levels of resistance and 22 pre-programmed workout routines that you can use to maximize each workout and avoid repetitive and boring exercises.
Among those 22 pre-programmed routines are 8 programs that help you get your heart rate up without overdoing it. You set your target heart rate (for instance, 165 BPM), and the machine will adjust the difficulty automatically so that your heart rate gets up to the target number but doesn’t go over it. For seniors with bad hearts, these programs are a must-have.
Outside of that, every other piece of the 430 Elliptical is well-made and designed for light-moderate exercise. Virtually any senior can get a great workout on this elliptical machine and do so safely and comfortably.
2. Best Easy Elliptical Machine for Seniors: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905
At a total price less than $200, this elliptical is everything you need and nothing that you don’t. For light exercise in your home, the SF-E905 is an excellent choice. It won’t take up too much space, nor will it cost you a fortune. At the same time, it won’t get you into the best shape of your life, but that’s not what it was built for. It’s an easy, simple machine that helps people get back into shape and maintain a good level of fitness.
This unit only has 8 different resistance levels and does not have any pre-programmed workouts, so don’t mistake it for a hardcore, luxury workout machine. What it is, though, is an incredibly affordable and easy-to-use elliptical machine that is perfect for light/casual exercise no matter what your level of fitness is!
3. Best Elliptical for Seniors With Arthritic Knees: Sole Fitness E95
This is one of the smoothest elliptical machines on the market, which makes it especially well-suited to seniors with arthritic knees. If an elliptical isn’t smooth, it can add pressure and strain on your knees instead of providing the desired “gliding feeling”.
The Sole Fitness E95 uses a 20-pound flywheel (the piece that provides resistance) and precisely engineered parts to keep the user moving smoothly and comfortably. Aside from stability and smoothness, the E95 has other features to love, such as Bluetooth speakers and foot pedals that were designed by physical therapists. If you’re looking for an elliptical that will preserve your knees and help you get into great shape, this is the one for you!
4. Best Recumbent Elliptical Cross Trainer for Seniors: Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Elliptical
The Teeter FreeStep is the ultimate recumbent elliptical in terms of both comfort and exercise benefit. Teeter surveyed their users and found that 97% of them felt that the machine was ideal for their knee and back comfort, and 93% reported less pain in their knees, hips, and back. If you have issues in any of these areas, this is the machine for you.
Instead of standing up, you’ll be sitting in a comfortable seat with your legs in front of you. Despite this casual positioning, the recumbent exercise position delivers the same exercise benefits as being upright. The seat is comfortable, as are the pedals and handlebars. Any senior can experience a great, body-friendly workout with this recumbent elliptical machine!
5. Best Elliptical for Seniors Under $1,000: Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E3865
The best feature of the SF-E3865 is the automatic magnetic resistance. No matter what workout program you are using, if the pulse sensors detect your heart rate rising too high, it will lower the resistance so that you can continue to exercise safely.
All you have to do is set your heart rate target before you start the workout and the elliptical does the rest. This is a great feature for seniors; you need to protect your heart and strengthen it without overworking it.
This elliptical is just as smooth and silent as top-of-the-line models you’ll find in gyms and hotel fitness centers but costs about half as much. It has 12 workout programs, 16 levels of resistance, and sports a lightweight and stylish design. The only downside is that it has a relatively low weight limit of just 265 pounds; if this isn’t a concern for you, the SF-E3865 is a great choice.
6. Best Under Desk Elliptical for Seniors: Stamina 55-1602 Inmotion Elliptical
Under-desk exercise equipment is very popular with people who want to get some exercise in while they are working on other things or watching TV. This affordable and effective elliptical is lightweight, easy to use, and lets you burn calories in a very casual way. Simply adjust the tension level, turn on the TV, and pedal away!
Buying Guide: How To Choose an Elliptical
What are the Major Brands of Elliptical Machines?
Bicycles aren’t the only thing that Schwinn specializes in! They bring their expertise in sports and fitness to ellipticals, too. Most of Schwinn’s ellipticals are designed to compliment the average person, who is not a world-class athlete. As such, their ellipticals are more affordable than other premium brands but still nice enough to satisfy fitness enthusiasts and people who desire comfort.
If you want to save money on your elliptical, we suggest choosing this brand. Models such as the SF-E905 cost less than $200 and will give you a practical, beneficial workout on a budget. Sunny Health and Fitness also has larger, more expensive models that, while performing just as well as $1,500+ models, still cost less than $800 total.
What is the Price Range of Elliptical Machines?
The cheapest ellipticals will set you back about $150-$350; they don’t have as many resistance levels and often lack pre-programmed workouts. Mid-range elliptical machines for seniors cost between $350-$800. These machines have smoother functions, more resistance levels, and are the most popular among people who want a good workout but aren’t setting their goals on world-class fitness.
Finally, the top of the price range for elliptical machines is anything above $800. Premium ellipticals are made with the nicest materials and have a much greater emphasis on intense exercise and training than others which focus more on simple fitness.
What to Look for in Elliptical Machines for Seniors
Elliptical Machines Workout FAQs
How to Use Elliptical Trainer for Seniors?
Best Elliptical Workouts for Seniors
- 1Beginner Elliptical Machine Low Impact High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)- 20 Minutes
- 2Ultimate 20-Minute Elliptical Workout- 20 Minutes
Ellipticals are an excellent way to stay in shape, preserve your joint health, and never have to leave your house. They’re more comfortable on the joints than treadmills and no more expensive than any treadmill or exercise bike! Which elliptical machine from our list are you most interested in? Do you have any questions about these exercise machines? Let us know in the comments section below!