Physical exercise is proven to be the best way to maintain your mobility as you get older. While exercises can be modified to fit your specific requirements, certain pieces of equipment can be added to your workout to make them that much easier.
With so many different types of equipment out there, it can be overwhelming to find tools that are not only safe but will also ensure that you get the most effective workout. In this article, we'll go over a few tips that will help you choose the proper exercise equipment, and then we'll learn about the different types of equipment available and how they can help with certain types of exercise.
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.
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 that the equipment you want is compatible with your size, 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 shouldn’t 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 Warm-Up Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Warming up is an absolute must before you start working out. As we age and our bodies change, it becomes harder to just jump right into physical activity without painful consequences. If we exercise without warming up, we drastically increase the chances of hurting ourselves during our workout.
A good warm-up will:
Below I’ve listed some basic warm-up equipment that every senior should have. I’ve also outlined some equipment that you should consider adding to your warm-up.
Basic Equipment for Warm-Up Exercises:
What you wear can have an impact on your workout. If your clothes are tight or restricting, it can be hard to perform certain activities full out. Comfortable clothing will give your body the freedom to move as it needs to complete different exercises.
It will also give your body plenty of breathing room. After you exercise, it’s typical to be sweaty and worn out. Some fabrics are made to pull the sweat away from your body so that you’re not drenched.
Lastly, if you do your workouts outside, wear clothing that’s appropriate for the weather.
Having the proper shoes will not only make your warm-up more comfortable, but it will also provide adequate protection for your feet and help with your alignment. Walking shoes are equipped with enhanced features that regular shoes don’t have. These features work to make sure you have the proper support while you’re exercising. Having a good pair of walking shoes can also reduce the risk of an ankle, shin, or knee injury.
If your shoes have worn out over time, replace them immediately. Once they’ve worn out, they don’t offer the same support that they did at first.
Floor/yoga mat (for stretching)
Floor/yoga mats come in different sizes and colors, and they’re made from a variety of different materials. Yoga mats are created from materials that stick to the floor, so you won’t have to worry about slipping and sliding while you do your exercises.
Having a yoga mat can also relive some of the tension from being on the floor, and it can protect your bones from the floor. Conversely, they also protect the floor from you. Yoga mats can catch the sweat and dirt that may come from your body during and after your workout.
Advanced Equipment for Warm-Up Exercises:
Walking on the treadmill is a great way to warm up the body. It’s important and safer for you to start at a pace that you’re comfortable with. Treadmill walking can help you focus on your posture, and it will allow you to get in a good walk without having to go outside.
Doing this regularly will also help improve your balance and mobility. As you progress, try increasing the pace a little bit at a time to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your treadmill.
Stair stepping can help improve your balance, and it’s a great way to slowly raise your heart rate. If going up and down the stairs is a challenge for you, having a stair stepper will help your body get readjusted with the effort it takes to go up and down the stairs. Using a stair stepper can enhance your coordination and improve the strength in your legs and thighs.
Stair steppers can be used in your home and at your own pace, and they're a good alternative to using a treadmill or going for a run.
Rowing machines are low-impact machines that can help you build endurance and stamina. They’re particularly good for seniors because they incorporate the use of almost all of your muscle groups. Using a rowing machine as a warm-up tool is a great way to get your entire body ready for your workout.
If you invest in a rowing machine, make sure that you have it set on the lowest resistance possible. Go at your own pace to prevent over-straining your muscles and injuring yourself.
Best Flexibility Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Using a chair while you do your flexibility exercises can alleviate some of the strain that these exercises can have on your muscles. A chair can serve as a modification to make hard stretches easier to do. Chairs can also serve as a sturdy object to lean on while you’re working on your flexibility. Additionally, if you can’t get on the floor, that’s perfectly okay. There are several chair exercises that you can do while still improving your flexibility.
Resistance bands allow you to get a deeper stretch when you’re doing your flexibility exercises. If you find that it’s hard to get a full stretch, or your body can’t bend the way it needs to complete these exercises, then a resistance band can help make up that difference. With a resistance band, you have complete control of the stretch which means you can prevent yourself from going too far which, otherwise, may be hard to do on your own.
A stretching machine is one of the best pieces of exercise equipment to help with your flexibility exercises. These machines can effectively stretch your entire body, and they also help to improve bad posture and alleviate back pain. It’s important when using a stretching machine that you do so at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
Best Aerobics & Endurance Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Basic Equipment for Aerobics/Endurance Exercises:
Wearing the proper walking shoes while you do your aerobics can help prevent foot fatigue and foot injuries while you’re working out. Walking shoes can also lessen the impact of your steps. It’s very important that you wear proper shoes while you’re working out. Doing so can prevent fractures and breaks which is a common problem among older adults.
Advanced Equipment for Aerobics/Endurance Exercises:
Using a stair stepper for aerobic exercise is a great way to get the blood going and your heart racing. As we talked about before, a stair stepper will help you improve your balance. It’s an easy-to-use piece of equipment that can be used in the comfort of your home, or brought with you to your local gym/senior center. There are a variety of stair-stepping routines designed specifically for seniors.
Exercise peddlers are a great way to build endurance and strength in the lower half of your body. Peddling can help improve your circulation and makes it easier for oxygen to flow freely throughout your body. This equipment can be used at your own pace, and it offers a good alternative to running or hopping on the treadmill.
Walking on the treadmill 2-3 times a day for at least 10 minutes is one of the best ways to get your heart racing as you get older. If you don’t want to walk outside, you can use the treadmill to accomplish the same thing inside. Also, you can adjust how fast the treadmill goes to ensure that you’re always walking at a pace that’s good for you.
Exercise bikes are a great way to complete an indoor physical activity that gets the blood pumping. It promotes good heart health, strengthens the leg muscles, and can even help lower your blood pressure. And, like most of the exercise equipment we’ve discussed, you can cycle at your own pace. Additionally, it’s a low impact machine which is perfect if you suffer from arthritis or joint pain.
Ellipticals are low impact machines that are ideal for people who have limited mobility and strength. Using an elliptical to do your aerobics can alleviate the strain on your knees, hips, and back. They’re also equipped with handles/armrests that offer stability while you work out.
Rowing machines are another one of those pieces of exercise equipment that are low impact and suitable for people of all ages. Adding a rowing machine to your workout routine can improve your stamina and help your body regain its bone density. It works out your entire body, and you can start at a pace that’s just right for you.
Having a fitness tracker is a great way to keep track of how many steps you’ve taken during your workout. Keeping track of your steps will help you monitor your progress, which, in turn, will tell you what adjustments you need to make to your workout routine. It can also hold you accountable for any fitness goals that you may have set.
Best Balance Exercise Equipment for Seniors
Balance trainers are a great way to work on your balance without putting too much strain on your feet and joints. Using a balance BOSU trainer provides a low impact way to not only improve your balance but also strengthen and tone your core muscles. They’re also praised for helping you maintain your independent lifestyle.
Advanced Equipment for Balance Exercises:
Balance boards are an amazing tool to use to improve your balance. Having one can also train your body to walk on uneven surfaces. Using a balance board engages your core, drastically reduces your risk of falls, improves your strength and flexibility. When you’re first starting out, you should hold on to a sturdy object (like a chair) until you feel comfortable enough to use the board on your own.
Balance beams will help you improve your balance and stability, and they’re very easy to use. You can even create your own balance beam using a folded up blanket. Balance beam exercises will teach you how to step over things without tripping or falling.
Best Strength exercise Equipment for Seniors
Basic Equipment for Strength Exercises:
Using a mirror while you workout will help you make sure that you’re using the proper form when you exercise. Exercising in the wrong way can put you at serious risk of hurting yourself, and you cheat yourself from reaping the full benefits of the workout.
Adding dumbbells to your workout can enhance your overall body strength, improve your metabolism, and help you regain your bone density. Before you use them, you should talk with your doctor to ensure that they’re safe for you.
Water weight/aquatic dumbbells
Ankle/wrist weights offer a lightweight alternative to using dumbbells. They’re perfect for seniors who have a hard time gripping dumbbells, and they help to improve your strength. They can be used while you walk, run, and perform strength exercises for the upper half of your body.
Storage container (or wheeled cart) for storing weights
A storage container is a safe place to store your weights when you’re not using them. Having one can prevent accidents like tripping over a weight that you didn’t put away. Storage containers with wheels can make it so much easier to carry your weights from one place to another.
Advanced Equipment for Strength Exercises:
Kettlebells are low impact tools that are easy to use. They can help you regain your bone density, improve your muscle mass and strength, relieves the pain in your joints, enhances cardiovascular health, and boosts your metabolism. When using kettlebells, do so next to a sturdy object that you can hold on to if you start to lose your balance.
Doorway pull-up bar
There’s no doubt that seniors can do pull-ups, but you’ll need a good amount of strength already before you do them. If you’re just starting out, get some assistance to reduce your risk of injury.
Home gyms are great because they’re customized just for you. With a home gym, you have complete control of what equipment is at your disposal, and you can set it up in a way that/s very comfortable for you. A home gym is your personalized and private place to workout. You can even hire trainers to come to your home and help you workout.
Battle ropes are easy to use and they can be used by anyone. They can help you strengthen your arms, legs, abdomen, and back, and they don’t require a whole lot of effort. If it’s your first time using them, do so with a trainer or a buddy.
TRX all-in-one suspension training equipment
TRX equipment gives you the freedom to do a variety of exercises without fear of losing your balance. You can target every type of exercise with this machine. Because it has such a variety, the first time you use the TRX should be with a trainer who’s familiar with the equipment.