Recently, studies have started to show and continue to show that spending time outdoors with nature is good for people’s mental and physical health. It only takes a couple of hours a week of good old fashioned outdoor time to start seeing positive benefits compared to people who spent more time inside. It is also well known that exercise, especially for seniors, also has a whole host of positive health benefits. So why not combine the two into one amazing health regimen and do your exercising outside? The benefits could be huge!
What is the best outdoor exercise equipment for use by senior citizens? That is the question we are going to answer in this short handy guide as well as identifying various different kinds of equipment suitable for outdoor use and giving you some tips and tricks to their use.
Main Types of Outdoor Exercise Equipment For Seniors
There are many different ways to exercise outside. Some of them, like hiking and walking on the beach, do not require any equipment at all. But what equipment can be used outside and what can you expect to see while looking to make a purchase?
Walking, running and biking are the most common ways to get a cardio workout while outside. There are specially designed walking shoes that can benefit seniors and avid walkers that enhance comfort and performance. There are also performance running shoes that are also available that serve the same function for runners and joggers.
Bikes are a classic way to exercise outside that can reduce the wear and tear on your knees and ankles while still providing a smooth way to work out in the sunshine. You do not need a fancy workout bike or speedster in order to get a good workout, you can simply get a comfortable bike that you enjoy riding.
Many weights, including dumbbells and kettlebells, can be used outside to great effect. As long as the weights are not made out of a metal that will rust or get grimy if exposed to water and sunlight then they can easily be used to get a great workout in on the lawn. Many modern weights are rubber, plastic or coated in neoprene which are all safe for extended use outside without having to worry about the elements. Simple weight training, especially when paired with a light cardio regime, is a fun and easy way to work out outside.
Daily life enhancers
Anything that gets you outside and moving is a good thing but that doesn’t mean they have to be large, expensive, or intrusive. Daily life enhancers, such as fitness trackers, nature apps, and trail finders are all easy ways to find a reason to get outside and get moving. Anything that boosts your natural daily activity and pushes you to spend more time outside could be considered a solid piece of exercise equipment - especially for the elderly. If you are looking at a set of light dumbbells and thinking that fitness might not be for you, think again. Instead, look at getting a pedometer and a trail guide and plan a day walking outside.
Benefits of Seniors Using Outdoor Exercise Equipment
Just 120 minutes per week spent in nature is enough to start giving people noticeable benefits. According to Yale, which looked at a slew of recent studies, the benefits you get from spending time in nature include “lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood” among other things.
Those benefits heavily overlap with the benefits of exercising. The CDC identified some key areas that are improved by daily physical activity in seniors. These areas were stress reduction, healing, accident reduction, independent living, joint health, and stamina.
Taken together, time in nature and time exercising, the benefits cannot be overstated. The potential long term benefits of working outside can be huge and have large impacts on a person’s mental and physical health.
Safety and Injury Concerns
Exercising is a great thing, as we have established, but it is not an activity without risks. Exercise can lead to strains, falls, and other injuries especially in aging adults. One of the biggest risks for senior citizens is actually exercising too much. Running and biking outside also increases the risk of an accident that can lead to injury. It is good to know your limitations and the limitations of the equipment you are using.
Never workout alone. Always have a buddy with you in case of an accident. If you have any questions or concerns about your physical health or the effects of exercise on your body always consult your doctor. In fact, it is always a good idea to let your doctor know that you are planning on making a lifestyle change and inform them of what kinds of exercise you will be doing so they can evaluate your health beforehand.
Best Outdoor Exercise Equipment For Seniors
Getting in a solid workout in the fresh air does not have to be complicated. Biking is one of the easiest and most fun ways to get in some enhanced physical activity outdoors. For this, we have turned to a true classic. The Schwinn Mikko & Huron Beach Cruiser is a classic bicycle with a timeless look and enduring performance.
The Schwinn Beach Cruiser comes in a variety of colors to fit your exact style. It features large and comfortable 26” wheels, a cushy seat and a classic backpedal brake design. If you want to get it in a three speed or a seven speed, they have those options as well. This bike is perfect for cruising around the community or even on the beach. The large tires make it so you can ride this bike just about everywhere.
The National Institutes of Health have identified a lot of benefits for seniors who cycle, as long as the risks are properly mitigated, and grabbing a classic bike like this is the first step to a freer and healthier future.
Best For Seniors With Diabetes: Garmin Vivoactive 3
Diabetes affects nearly 25% of all people over the age of 65. It is a manageable condition but it does take constant management to ensure that you stay safe and healthy while dealing with the disease. That is why we picked the Garmin Vivoactive 3 as our pick for the best exercise wearable for seniors with diabetes. This smart fitness tracker makes tracking your daily activity and health vitals easier than ever.
This watch will track your levels of activity while walking, running, biking, hiking, swimming, doing yoga or pilates, and more. It also tracks your heart rate and heart rate variability to give you suggestions on how to improve your daily stress and fitness levels. All of this can be critically important to improving health while managing diabetes, especially when paired with a glucose reader and advice from your doctor.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is affordable, pairs with almost all smart devices, and can start showing you where to get more active immediately. It is unobtrusive and is one of the simplest ways to help you get up and moving. Setting goals for outdoor activity is the first step towards spending more active time outdoors.
Best On a Budget: FITFORT Resistance Bands Set
If you are on a fixed income and simply do not have a lot of extra change lying around to invest in large or expensive exercise equipment, do not worry! This set of resistance bands by FITFORT are available for less than $20 but still give you ample ways to exercise outdoors. Resistance bands can be used to enhance yoga, stretching, pilates, and other light solo workouts. These exercises can easily be done outside on the lawn, at the beach, or in an outdoor fitness class.
This set comes with three variable resistance bands made out of a durable non-slip fabric that is designed to stand the test of time while enhancing safety. With three bands of different strengths, you have many different ways to boost your outdoor activity.
Buying Guide: What To Look For In Outdoor Exercise Equipment For Seniors
Almost anything can be taken outside the question becomes, should it be taken outside? Before you eagerly buy up some snazzy looking exercise equipment for outdoor use make sure to ask yourself these two important questions.
Can it be used outdoors?
Not everything can be used outside. Being outdoors exposes your equipment to higher levels of UV light, moisture, sweat, bugs, and other things. Most exercise equipment will weather this just fine but not all of it will. Some shoes are designed to be worn on indoor tracks. Some smartwatches and wearables are not waterproof. Metal weights can rust. Plastic can be worn by the sun. Before you plan on using an item exclusively or extensively outside double check to make sure that it can be used outside.
Is it safe?
Secondly, is it safe to use outside? The ground outdoors is often unlevel and prone to hazards not found inside. The last thing you want to do is be lifting weights in the yard and end up putting your foot into a gopher hole and causing an injury. Working out safely is paramount to building fitness and being healthy in the long run. Make sure that the equipment you are planning on using outdoors is safe for outdoor use. At the very least, make sure that the area you plan on using the equipment is level and suitable for the type of exercise you are trying to do.