If you’re getting up there in years, chances are the aches and pains you feel day to day aren’t aging anything like a fine wine.
The best way to begin a fitness journey is with the right equipment. Check out our complete guide to the best exercise equipment for seniors and learn how each type of equipment can benefit you!
Main Types of Exercise Equipment for Seniors to Use at Home
Flexibility is an important component of overall physical well-being. Increasing your flexibility means that your muscles and tendons aren’t just “bendy”, they’re also loose and tension-free. If you experience lower back pain or chronic pain in other parts of your body, muscle tension may be the cause. Practicing exercises for flexibility keeps your muscles loose, preventing pain and soreness.
Flexibility exercises generally don’t require much equipment, if any at all. However, there are some helpful items that seniors can use to stretch their muscles and tendons:
Building muscle is important for functionality, balance, joint health, and promoting a general sense of personal health. There are many different ways to build muscle. In fact, many activities that are traditionally thought of as promoting cardio, balance, or flexibility will also build muscle. Running, yoga, and calisthenics all improve muscular strength over time. If you want to specifically target your muscles when you exercise, though, this equipment is for you:
Many seniors struggle with balance; balance issues are one of the main reasons that 35% of people age 65 or over fall each year. Working to improve your balance and coordination involves developing better coordination and motor skills; there are a number of types of balance exercise equipment you can use to accomplish this:
The word “cardio” is short for “cardiovascular”, referring to exercise that targets the heart and lungs. Strengthening your heart and lungs can give you more energy, increased libido, and reduce your risk of heart attacks and heart disease by up to 40%. Cardio exercise, sometimes called “aerobic” exercise gets your heart rate up and increases your breathing rate. There are many ways to get cardio exercise; the simplest is walking and running. The following pieces of exercise equipment are great for cardio:
Legs/Lower Body Equipment
If you want to tone or strengthen your legs, cardio and weight training will be your best friend. Whether it comes in the form of running/walking, an elliptical machine, rowing, or cycling, cardio exercise always has positive benefits for your legs and lower body, not just the heart and lungs.
Doing lunges, squats, or calf raises with weights in your hands is another great way to strengthen your lower body. You can also use resistance bands and loops to add a new level of difficulty to your lower body workouts!
Upper Body Equipment
Weights, exercise bands, and home gym machines are the best way to tone and shape the upper body. Unless you’re swimming or rowing, your arms don’t have much to do during cardio exercise. That means you need to focus on other types of exercise for your upper body.
Bicep curls, chest presses, and military presses are among the most popular and beneficial upper body exercises. If you have a home gym system, you can do these exercises with cables instead of free weights, giving you a bit more stability.
Best Flexibility/Stretching Equipment for Seniors
Best Resistance Bands: Leekey Resistance Band Set
Four different resistance bands give you the ability to stretch all your muscles in ways that you just can’t when stretching alone. They’re ideal for stretching your legs and arms, and they can also be used to develop strength, too! If you have consistently sore hamstrings, thighs, or arm muscles, consider adding these resistance bands to your exercise equipment collection to stretch them evenly and comfortably!
Resistance Bands Runner Up: Fit Simplify Resistance Loop
Resistance loops, in exercise jargon, are a lot like resistance bands- they’re just a lot shorter, about the length of a belt. You can use them in much the same way, to stretch out and warm up your legs and arms. The best part about these resistance loops is that they’re very affordable- they cost less than a combo meal at the local Wendy’s!
Best Yoga-Based Stretching Equipment
Best Yoga Mat: Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat
This yoga mat is simple, affordable, and thicker than most. It’s made with a synthetic material that will soak up sweat and prevent you from slipping while you stretch. Many yoga mats are very overpriced (up to $50 for an item that has little variation), but this one costs less than $20. It’s a no-brainer for any senior planning on stretching and exercising at home! Gaiam is one of the best manufacturers of yoga equipment, known for high-quality products and fair pricing.
Even if you’re not planning on doing yoga for fitness, having a good yoga mat is essential for home workouts. They’re more comfortable than exercising on the bare floor, and their ability to prevent slipping makes them perfect for seniors doing any form of exercise. From tai chi and yoga to simple pushups and crunches, a yoga mat such as this one will always come in handy!
Best Yoga Blocks: Node Cork Yoga Block Set
Yoga blocks are helpful for people who want to stretch but lack the flexibility to bend very deeply. You can use them to stabilize your body as you work on increasing your flexibility, even if you aren’t very interested in yoga itself.
These yoga blocks are very stable, inexpensive, and are made of cork which absorbs moisture. This adds to their stability because they’ll soak up sweat and leave your hands dry and full of traction. If you’re looking for yoga blocks that will help you stretch and improve your flexibility, look no further!
Best Foam Roller for Seniors: Acumobility Ultimate Back Roller
This foam roller isn’t just a round piece of foam; rather, it uses four different rows of foam “dots” that gently massage your body as you roll over it. One of the biggest issues with foam rollers is that they can sometimes put too much pressure on the spine; the Ultimate Back Roller solves this by placing the “dots” away from the spine.
You can roll out your back, legs, and even your arms on this roller, relieving tension and promoting greater flexibility. You can even place it between you and the wall if using it on the floor is too intense. If a senior wants to work out muscle tension and soreness, this roller should be part of their stretching routine!
Best Balance Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Best Balance Board (Overall): EveryMile Wobble Balance Board
Many balance boards are designed for one of two people groups: children or action sports athletes. That means most balance boards are simply not a good fit for seniors; they’re either too simple/small or they’re way too intense to be useful or even usable for seniors.
The EveryMile Wobble board, however, is easy for seniors to use but not so easy that it’s pointless. All you have to do is stand on it and use your legs/arms to balance yourself. Even just a few minutes each day will improve your balance and strengthen the minor muscles in your hips and ankles that are responsible for balancing.
This balance board has a slip-free surface and provides 360 degrees of balancing instead of one-way balancing like traditional balance boards. If you’re looking for a fun and engaging way to build balance, this is it!
Balance Board Runner-Up: Carrom Balance Board
The Carrom board was one of the original balance boards adopted by skateboarders, skiers, and surfers for at-home training. It’s little more than a grooved wooden board that sits atop a similarly grooved round piece of wood. Standing on it, however, is more challenging than it looks and is an ideal way to build balance. You can also use it to do pushups/planks with an added level of difficulty.
Standing on this balance board is more difficult than round types because a slip in balance can much more easily lead to a fall. If you’re already in good shape and enjoy outdoor sports such as surfing, however, this balance board is the perfect at-home training challenge for you!
Best Strength-Building Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Best Free Weights
The good news is that it’s hard to go wrong with free weights (barbells and dumbbells). The following products, though, are made with high-quality materials and are a bit more comfortable to use:
Available in sizes ranging from 10-50 pounds, these dumbbells are exactly what most people need to work out- no more, no less. These weights are simple and dependable, and they will last for decades without wearing down. Some dumbbells available online are made from plastic casings filled with concrete or sand and are bulky and flimsy. With nice dumbbells like these, you’ll be able to get a great workout whenever you want.
Instead of purchasing multiple sets of dumbbells for each weight, the Bowflex Select-Tech gives you 15 different sets of weights in one purchase. It not only saves you space, but it also saves you a good deal of money- the Bowflex SelectTech costs about $1,000 for a pair, but you’d have to spend much more than that to buy 15 sets of dumbbells separately. If you love to lift weights but don’t want to install an entire Planet Fitness’ worth of weights in your house, this is the way to go!
Best Kettlebells: Best Choice 3 Kettlebell Set
Kettlebells are a different type of weight that is easier to hold when doing motion-intensive exercises like lunges and squats. This set of three kettlebells- 5, 10, and 15 pounds- is affordable, comfortable, and comes with a storage rack. For any senior putting together a home workout space, kettlebells are a necessary and sometimes expensive purchase. These kettlebells, however, won’t break the bank!
Kettlebells (Runner-Up): CAP Barbell Cast Iron Kettlebells
If you need a heavier kettlebell, this is the way to go. They’re simple, have large handles that make them easy to grip (even though they’re bare iron), and reasonably priced. They’re available in sizes from 10-60 pounds. Any senior who needs one or two extra kettlebells of higher weight should look no further than the CAP Barbell Cast Iron models.
Best Exercise Bands: Tribe Fitness Exercise Bands Set
This set of 5 exercise bands with weight ratings from 5-35 pounds is like having a complete home gym system in a bag. Simply select the band (or combination of bands) you wish to work out with and attach them to a door, tree, or piece of furniture. Depending on where you secure the bands, you can do chest, arm, back, shoulder, or leg workouts!
There are dozens of products like this one available online. So, what sets this one in particular apart from the rest? First, the price- many other sets of exercise bands cost more than $50 but these can be yours for less than $25. Second, Tribe Fitness includes a small manual with pictures of workouts that you can do with the exercise bands. No more guessing at what the right form/technique is- it’s right there in front of you!
Best Home Gym System (Overall): NordicTrack Fusion CST
NordicTrack makes some of the world’s most luxurious and beneficial workout equipment. The Fusion CST is a cable machine that provides 20 levels of magnetic resistance and is versatile enough to replace an entire gym membership. You can add a paid subscription to NordicTrack’s extensive library of workouts to complete the system, but people who have experience on cable machines might decide to save their money instead.
There is virtually no limit to the ways you can exercise on the Fusion CST. If you are looking for a total-body fitness machine that saves space and feels smooth, this is the product for you. It’s a bit too expensive to be perfect for everyone, and some people still prefer workouts with old-fashioned weights. But, for those who want a luxurious way to work out, casually or seriously, the Fusion CST is hard to beat!
Best Home Gym (Runner-Up): Bowflex Xceed
They’re known across the country for late-night infomercials advertising their exercise equipment, but don’t make the mistake of thinking Bowflex isn’t serious about fitness. The adjustable pulleys, cables, and sitting/standing positions afforded by the Bowflex Xceed mean you can do 65 different workouts, all on this machine!
For less than $750, this exercise machine delivers a nearly unrivaled full-body workout. If you’re looking for a home gym that won’t leave you bored or dissatisfied, you should strongly consider the Bowflex Xceed.
Best Cardio Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Best Treadmill for Seniors: NordicTrack T 6.5
NordicTrack makes excellent exercise machines of all types; this model is their consumer-level treadmill, perfect for seniors looking to get back in shape. It’s easy to use, has a large emergency stop button for safety, and will provide great indoor cardio for years to come.
The best feature of the NordicTrack T 6.5 is the “FlexSelect Cushioning”. Instead of running on a rigid, unforgiving surface that wears down your ankles and knees, this treadmill has the slightest amount of flexibility that dampens the impact of each step. This is especially good for seniors because it means you can run further without having to worry as much about the impact it is having on your joints!
Best Elliptical Machine for Seniors: Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine
They don’t just make bicycles with cool retro designs; no, Schwinn also makes great exercise machines. This elliptical operates very smoothly and has 20 different levels of resistance, letting you get the exact intensity that suits your body’s needs. There are also 22 pre-programmed workout routines you can use to mix things up and keep yourself motivated.
The Schwinn 430 is a great way to get exercise that feels a lot like running but that doesn’t have a large impact on your joints. You can also work out your arms simultaneously; it’s a full-body that a treadmill just can’t replicate. If you’re worried about your knees or simply find treadmills to be a little boring, you should consider getting a high-quality elliptical machine such as this one.
Best Rowing Machine For Seniors: Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine
Concept2 has long been at the forefront of rowing technology and gear; their Model D rowing machine is their most popular product and is an excellent rower for people of all ages. It’s so popular, in fact, that Concept2 calls it the most popular rowing machine in the world!
This rower weighs only 70 pounds and also divides into two pieces for easy storage. It has 10 different levels of resistance and an ultra-smooth glide track, giving seniors a safe and secure way to work out at home. The best part is that this gym-quality rowing machine costs under $800!
Best Exercise Bike for Seniors: Peloton Bike
When it comes to upright exercise bikes, it’s very hard to go wrong with the Peloton bike. It’s extremely smooth and efficient and has a large video screen built in. On that screen, you can track your progress and workout statistics, sure, but the real benefit of having a Peloton bike is the extensive library of live and pre-recorded workout videos.
If you’re the type of person who loves to have a bit of outside motivation while you exercise, you’re also the type of person the Peloton bike is designed for. It’s a wonderful bike without the videos, but the ability to take professional workout classes (for any skill/fitness level) is the real selling point of the Peloton bike. If you’ve got the money to cover the roughly $1,750 cost, this bike is the best of the best!
Best Sitting Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Best Recumbent Exercise Bike for Seniors: Nordic Track Commercial R35
Recumbent exercise bikes are just as good for an effective workout as upright exercise bikes, but they put less pressure on your body, particularly your back, because you are leaning against a seat with a backrest. They’re ideal for seniors and people with disabilities who have back issues and cannot sit upright on a bicycle for extended periods of time.
The R35 is a comfortable and luxurious exercise bike that provides everything you need to get in shape and stay in shape. It has a 14-inch screen (that includes a 1-year subscription to a library of workout videos) you can use to track your progress or play a nature video and pretend you’re cycling through the Italian Dolomites. If you’ve got the budget for a top-of-the-line recumbent bicycle, the NordicTrack R35 is perfect for you!
Best Recumbent Elliptical Machine for Seniors: Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Elliptical
The Teeter FreeStep is an incredibly comfortable and efficient workout machine; you can get a full-body workout that doubles as strength and cardio, all while sitting down! The FreeStep puts you into the “recumbent” position, meaning that you’re leaning back in the seat, relaxing your hips and spine a bit. With multiple magnetic resistance levels, an adjustable seat, and the ability to work your arms at the same time, getting in shape will rarely feel so effortless.
This elliptical is ideal for seniors who have disabilities or concerns about the health of their joints and bones. It puts very little stress on your major joints and lets you select the amount of resistance that works for you. If you are overweight, have a disability, or are worried about being stiff and sore after working out, the Teeter FreeStep is perfect for you.
Best Outdoor Exercise Equipment for Elderly
SixThreeZero may not be a household name like Schwinn, but they make excellent bikes that perfectly balance comfort and performance. The Body Ease (designed for men) and Relaxed Body (for women) are two hybrid bikes that give you everything you need to enjoy a great workout in the great outdoors. You can also upgrade either bike with more gears and different storage options.
These bikes have a step-through frame, which means that you don’t have to raise your leg up very high to get on/off. That saves your hips and back the potentially dangerous strain of getting onto a bike with a straight bar frame. The Body Ease and Relaxed Body were both designed with seats, pedals, and handlebars that let you sit up straight as you ride, preserving your back and hips by ensuring a healthy riding posture.
Safety Tips for Seniors to Avoid Injury While Using Exercise Equipment
Focus on All Areas
It is recommended that older adults do not neglect any area of exercise- aerobics/cardio, muscular strength, and balance/flexibility are all equally important. Try to incorporate all areas of fitness into your routine, instead of just one. Some exercises, such as rowing, will naturally combine multiple areas of fitness (cardio and strength training). Make sure that you are focusing on your fitness as a whole, not just one area that you enjoy!
Know Your Limits
If it’s been a while since you’ve kept a fitness routine or you’ve had a recent injury/surgery, you need to start off slowly and respect your body’s limitations. If you feel exhausted after a few days of exercising, take some time to rest and recover. Similarly, if your muscles feel sore and tender after a workout, consider dialing back your exercise routine a bit.
Stay Safe Outdoors
The National Institute for Aging released a helpful guide for seniors who are going to be exercising outdoors, in both hot and cold weather. Some of the most important things to remember are to:
Buying Guide: How to Choose Exercise Equipment
Benefits of Exercise for Seniors' Mobility
Mobility is an integral part of our everyday lives, especially as we get older. We need to have good mobility to freely and easily perform simple tasks like getting up from the table or climbing up and down a set of stairs. As we get older, it gets harder for our bodies to maintain their ability to move, and this can have a huge impact on our day-to-day lifestyle, both physically and mentally.
The best way to keep our mobility intact as we age is through physical exercise. There are four types of exercises that will have you coming and going as you please for as long as your body is able. They include:
- Flexibility exercises
- Aerobics (Endurance)
- Balance exercises
- Strength exercises
Flexibility exercises will help improve the strength of your muscles and bones. They’re mostly done before and after a workout session to help alleviate soreness and prevent your muscles from cramping. Incorporating these exercises into your routine can create open passageways for the blood and oxygen to flow freely throughout your body.
It’s very important to work on your flexibility as you get older. Here’s why:
Aerobic exercises are designed to get your heart racing and build up your endurance. Similar to flexibility exercises, aerobics help the oxygen flow freely through your body, and they also work wonders to strengthen the cardiovascular system. Aerobics can include dancing, swimming, running, hiking, and any other physical activity that gets the blood going. To fully reap the benefits of these exercises, it’s recommended that you complete a full 10-minute exercise.
Here’s why it's important to add aerobics to workout routine:
Balance exercises can be done anywhere at any time, but they’re often overlooked when putting an exercise routine together. These exercises go hand-in-hand flexibility training as they both improve your balance and help your body maintain its mobility. Also, balance exercises strengthen the muscles in your legs and enhance your body's ability to keep you upright.
There are several benefits to adding balance exercises to your workout or your everyday routine.
Strength exercises are a crucial part of working out for people of all ages. They can improve your metabolism, bone density, and muscle mass. While they may seem a bit intimidating, strength exercises can be modified so that you don’t put your body through a lot of stress and pain, but you do receive all the benefits from these exercises.
Here are a few reasons why strength exercises are important as we get older.
Pros & Cons of Seniors Using Exercise Equipment
How to Know Which Types of Home Exercise Equipment You Should Buy
If you’re trying to lose 15 pounds of body fat, it’s a bad idea to buy the Bowflex Xceed. It’s a great home gym machine, but it won’t help you burn fat. That’s why it’s important to set goals. If you want to burn fat, shop for cardio equipment. If you want to increase your arm strength, you need exercise bands or weights. It doesn’t matter what your goals are, specifically- just make sure you set them before you wind up spending hundreds on exercise equipment you don’t need.
Find What You Like
Exercise isn’t natural or enjoyable for most people. If you haven’t developed a lifelong habit of staying fit, it’s going to be hard for you to do so later in life if you choose exercises you find boring or tedious. Think about past experiences with working out and ask yourself which types of activities and exercises you actually enjoyed.
Some people love riding bikes or rowing. Other people find that to be very tedious and prefer to lift weights. Still others eschew any type of “home gym” exercise and play tennis/squash as often as they can. When it comes to exercise, the best thing you can do is find something that you truly enjoy!
Tips for Choosing Home Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Exercises affect everyone differently. The good thing about this is that there is so much variety out there that allows you to modify these exercises so that they’re not painful for you. Changing up an exercise can mean adjusting the number of reps you do, altering the form of the exercise in a way that’s comfortable for you, or adding equipment to your workout routine so that you can effectively execute these exercises.
If exercising on your own is a challenge, there’s equipment out there that are designed to ease the load a bit. Exercise equipment is also a great way to target and work out specific areas in your body. The challenge comes from choosing the proper equipment.
There is a whole world of devices out there that claim that they can make your workout journey an easier one. But how do you determine who’s telling the truth? What do you even look for when buying exercise equipment? Here are a few tips to guide you along.
NOTE: If you're unsure about using exercise equipment, consult your doctor.
Try Before You Buy
Before you buy any home equipment, go to your local gym or senior center, and check out a few of the workout tools that they have there. Exercise equipment is not cheap, so giving it a test drive will ensure that you’re not wasting money on equipment that you either don’t like or can’t use.
Testing out equipment beforehand will also give you the chance to see if it’s comfortable to use. Ads do a great job of making things look wonderful, but that may not always be the case. The best way to make sure that you’re getting some equipment that will actually help is by trying it out first.
Make Sure the Equipment is Compatible with Your Height and Weight
Exercise equipment comes in all shapes and sizes with different rules and safety regulations on who should and shouldn’t use them. To reduce your risk of injury, read all of the guidelines that come with the piece of equipment that you’re interested in. If you can’t find the size, height, and weight limitations, you can either look them up online or talk to someone who works at your local gym/senior center and is familiar with the workout equipment.
Have a Plan for the Equipment
There’s some equipment that’s good for general use. They don’t have any specific features that make them good for one specific type of exercise. On the other hand, some tools are equipped with distinguishing features that are designed for just one area of the body. Some of this equipment may be great for aerobic exercise but not so great for flexibility exercises.
Having an idea of what you want this equipment to help you accomplish will make it a great deal easier to find something that’s right for you. You’ll also avoid the mistake of using the equipment in the wrong way.
The Equipment Should Not Be Confusing
The point of adding exercise equipment to your routine is to make your life easier. The equipment you choose shouldn’t be hard to figure out or use. Complicated exercise equipment can create an unnecessary risk of seriously injuring yourself.
There are simple exercise tools with features that are easy to use, designed to take the strain off your joints and bones, and will still help you achieve a great workout.
Best Websites and Retail Stores for Buying Exercise Equipment
Getting back into an exercise routine can be pretty intimidating for seniors, but it doesn’t have to be. If you get the right exercise equipment and trust your body’s instincts, you can get in shape, preserve your joints, and feel better day in and day out. Which exercise equipment are you most interested in? Let us know in the comments section below!