Exercising isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea. Especially for seniors, it can seem nothing short of meaningless torture. They can tolerate only a few exclusive exercising types of equipment like the ellipticals. And that brings up an important question, are ellipticals good for seniors?
From a general perspective, ellipticals are quite good for seniors. However, whether a certain type of exercise is good for someone, really depends on their strength level and limit. Ellipticals can offer the old bones some much-needed exercise without straining the limits too much.
However, that’s not all that goes into the matter of whether ellipticals are inherently good or bad for seniors. Plenty of factors play into the equation for it to play out the way that it does.
So, let’s find out why ellipticals are good for seniors and then figure out the corresponding facts and factors.
Why Are Ellipticals Good For Seniors?
Ellipticals are one of the best exercise equipment for seniors out there. But, hey, don’t just take our word for it. Here are a few reasons why ellipticals are deemed so good for seniors and elderly patients.
Ellipticals Have Non-Impact Design
Whilst using exercising equipment, you must have noticed how it directly or indirectly affects your body. For instance – during swimming, the water directly hits your body and the water pressure tries to drown you.
And all the opposite force exerted by you to overcome that pressure is what counts as muscle exercise.
Again, during weight lifting, you are physically lifting the heavyweight dumbbells. The extra force that you’re putting in to defy the gravitational force, is the impact force itself. It’s directly putting a strain on your muscles and causing you to exhaust yourself.
Meanwhile, non-impact types of machinery are those that don’t result in any such direct straining. With such equipment, you don’t have to defy gravity or deal with any external pressure. You continue to exercise at a pace that you’d normally do something, just faster.
A great example is a pedaling machine. It’s just like cycling in real life. You just sit on the platform and then pedal on for as long as you want. And as fast as you want. No outside pressure or force is crashing down on you. You just let your muscles do the talking.
Similarly, ellipticals also have a non-impact design. It’s just like normal walking or jogging, isn’t it? You don’t have to go out of your way to do something that isn’t naturally occurring. Well, indeed you have to run faster or slower depending on a certain pace sometimes.
But it still doesn’t make your organs do anything that they would not otherwise do. As a result, you can get some exercise while doing everyday things.
Now, you must have noticed how some morning or evening jogging is a really popular sport among elderly people. It’s how they get their daily dose of exercise and get to walk around the park or riversides. Alongside running, they get to meet new friends as well.
So, what happens if they suddenly couldn’t go outside for some reason? Maybe the weather isn’t friendly enough or they just don’t have the energy to stay out for much longer. How do you think they are going to get their daily dose of exercise then?
Precisely. Due to the non-impact design, an elliptical can perfectly provide all the necessary jogging or running conditions. That way, seniors won’t have to compromise on their exercising even if they can’t go out.
Furthermore, since there are no external interruptions, they may get more exercise than usual. It will also help them to create a biological habit out of it and encourage them to keep doing it. And that’s a very good habit to have for an elderly person.
Ellipticals Provide Less Strain On Body
Unlike most other exercise equipment, ellipticals offer much less strain on both the muscles and joints. In fact, this is another primary benefit of them having a non-impact design. As a result, it’s better suited for seniors who cannot tolerate much exhaustion.
Since you’ll only exercise via running on the elliptical, you will have a full-body workout at once. It will activate the muscles throughout the body to keep on running as you go. But it won’t cause any extra strain on your muscles and nor will it cause any body part to bend.
As a result, joints like your ankles, knees, shoulder, etc. will all stay protected. Everyone knows how hard it is for elderly people when they have joint pain. And actually, this pain is the main reason why they aren’t interested in exercising as they start to grow old.
So, by taking the pain factor out of the equation, an elliptical makes it so much easier for them. And not just normal joint pain, elliptical works wonder against people suffering from other joint-related diseases as well.
For instance – people suffering from osteoporosis or arthritis can greatly benefit from using ellipticals. They don’t really need to use the joints to operate the machine but they do get its benefits. In short, the elliptical keeps the joints in check without actively using them.
And that’s pretty much all you need to maintain a relatively healthy status, no? Exactly. So, if other machines cause extreme pain to you due to your weak conditions, you should try the ellipticals out. They might just end up becoming a lifesaver for you.
Ellipticals Have No Complex Mechanism
Well, you know what they say about the guys who have lived a long long time. They have seen it and done it all. And now, having to deal with something way too complex doesn’t just cut with them anymore. This is also why they are too reluctant to adapt to newer technologies.
And honestly, it’s understandable. They are at an age when they don’t really have the energy to waste over something new and unnecessary. So, the simpler something is, the better it is for them to handle and understand.
And ellipticals fill that quota as well when it comes to viable mechanical equipment for seniors. Because well, let’s face it. Elderly people don’t care enough to learn or properly use all those fancy new gym workout machines.
What they need is something simple and easy enough to operate. Something they won’t have a hard time with. And what better equipment than an elliptical that fits that type of description?
All you need is to just grab the holders and run or jog on the foot pedals. The continuous rolling motion will take care of the rest. That’s how easy-breezy the entire procedure is.
As a result, even elderly people prefer to use ellipticals instead to get their daily exercise. It doesn’t even feel like they are operating some heavy machinery or something. They are just simply working the pedals and letting the elliptical take care of the rest of the workout.
Furthermore, it also doesn’t take a long time to get used to workout sessions that involve an elliptical. Unlike gym workout sessions involving squat racks or power racks that require complex instructions, ellipticals are much simpler.
So, even if someone is super new to the sessions, they can easily adapt to it in less than a week. They also take comparatively less time to move forward to the more advanced workouts. And that’s all because of how easy it is to actually use an elliptical trainer.
Simultaneous Workout Of The Body
If you are familiar with gym machinery, you must have noticed how there are different equipment for different body parts. For instance – you will need to use dumbbells to work on those arm muscles. Again, power racks will help out with your upper body strength.
The point is that – people usually need to use a bunch of equipment to get a full-body workout. All the bits and pieces unequivocally work together to keep your body fit and healthy.
But, that being said, it’s physically not possible for many seniors to include such heavy equipment in their workout programs. As mentioned a while ago, their body cannot exactly take the strain of such machinery.
So, the answer to how they might take care of their full-body workout needs? That’s right. It’s ellipticals again. They shine in this prospect as well just like the previous ones.
Think about it. When you’re on the elliptical trainer, the foot pedals are focusing on strengthening your leg muscles. And the holders on the top that you grab on before pedaling? They are in a continuous motion too, aren’t they?
And that repetitive motion results in an upper body workout by focusing on your arm muscles. So, while the foot pedals are taking care of the workout down there, your upper body workout needs are taken care of as well.
Now, it’s definitely not as vigorous of a full-body exercise that you would get from other specific machinery. But at least it’s simultaneous and offers you the best workout within its limited range. As a result, it’s perfect for seniors who like to stay fit and healthy.
Ellipticals Have An Adjustable Interface
Another great thing about ellipticals is that they don’t have a fixed exercising layout. You can adjust the inclinations to your preferences if you need to. And that’s something that elderly people really appreciate as it allows them to navigate through their comfort zones.
For instance – many seniors don’t do well when ellipticals have a high inclination. Because it’s harder for them to operate it smoothly due to muscle or joint issues. Again, if they try too hard, it may cause muscular dystrophy and will exhaust them.
So, users like them can adjust the elliptical settings lower to have more of an even ground. That way, the elevation will decrease significantly and they will get to operate the elliptical more smoothly.
The opposite stands true as well, by the way. If someone is really tall or does better at a higher level, then that’s possible as well. You can again raise the settings to a high inclination level to adjust it to your advantage.
The whole point of seniors using ellipticals is that – it should feel like a natural movement to them. So, if they do end up spending extra futile energy on it, all that point becomes null and void. And that’s why the factor of adjustability is such a big deal here.
By adjusting the settings to their preferences, seniors can truly enjoy a carefree workout. And if they start to feel sore after a certain setting, they can lower the level to see if that’s better. All in all, it’s superb that they get the chance to explore through their comfort zones.
Some Elliptical Have Backward Pedaling
Needless to say, most ellipticals you see come with forwarding pedaling settings. Well at least, that’s the way it’s normal, right? But very few people know that it’s also possible to pedal backward via an elliptical trainer.
That’s right. You’ll find many such ellipticals (decidedly, ellipticals that are modern enough) that come with both forward and backward pedaling settings. In some, you can simultaneously pedal in both directions at the same time.
While in the others, you will need to adjust the settings separately before you can pedal in the opposite direction. Well, however it works, the point is that it’s possible. And that’s great news for seniors who love to use ellipticals.
Because many of them are more comfortable in moving their legs in a certain position. And moving them backward often provides more comfort than forwards. So, seniors with similar conditions can really benefit from using elliptical trainers.
Ellipticals Help With Cognitive Balance
And finally, ellipticals don’t only help out with strengthening leg and arm muscles. It can greatly help out with certain cognitive impairments as well. It’s a side benefit from all that simultaneous body movement when you’re using an elliptical trainer.
But what does that have to do with seniors, you ask? Well, as you grow old, your basic cognitive function starts to slowly wear off. That’s why falling cases are so common among elderly people. The body has a tough time balancing itself and that results in dizziness and drowsiness.
When you’re using an elliptical, both your hands and legs are in motion at the same time. And continuing with that motion can gradually improve your cognitive functions as well. You can become more aware of your body and as a result, can control your activities far more effectively.
What Type Of Ellipticals Should Seniors Get?
By now, you know why all seniors should definitely get an elliptical. But, what type? Well, here are a few ideas for you.
Rear Drive Elliptical
Rear Drive Ellipticals are the oldest format of elliptical trainers. Therefore, they are the ones with the plain and straightforward designs as well. That makes them a great fit for seniors.
Furthermore, users can experience a much more natural stride with such ellipticals. The balance is more or less towards the center which makes it easier to control. So, the seniors can operate it more fruitfully.
Elliptical Cross Trainer
Seniors can use the elliptical cross trainers from a seated position. Other than the seating arrangements, everything else is similar to a standard elliptical.
As a result, elderly people who find it tough to stand for a long time can go for such ellipticals. That way, they won’t have to go beyond their comfort zone to get some exercise.
What To Watch Out For Before Buying An Elliptical For Seniors
Here’s what you need to focus on before buying an elliptical for seniors:
Stride, Resistance, Incline, and Handlebars – the overall performance of an elliptical depends on all four of these. For stride, make sure it’s within the 18″ to 22″ range. And it’s even better if you can get an adjustable one.
For resistance, it’s best to go for comparatively lightweight flywheels. Keep it around 20-25 pounds. The heavyweight ones are harder to operate for seniors and cost a lot more anyway.
Incline depends on how much of a challenge someone’s muscles can take. For seniors, best to keep the maximum incline within 10 to 20%. And lastly, check out whether the handlebars have a sturdy build. The cheap ones will stay unsynchronized and will mess up the balance.
Decidedly, ellipticals with greater durability will come at a greater cost. But an elliptical needs to have a premium quality framework, especially if an elderly person is going to use it.
Again, a sturdy build will allow a greater weight limit. So, don’t get ellipticals that utilize cheap plastic parts. Always check out the user reviews to find out whether they are actually good.
Features That Can Elevate The Elliptical Experience For Seniors
Some extra features can ensure a better elliptical experience for seniors. Here’s a brief overview of a few features like that.
If the elliptical comes with a large and crystal clear display, seniors can monitor their performances better. Again, if the display supports it, they can play various clips, songs, and even movies on it at times.
TV & Internet Plug-In
Well, you do need internet and TV plug-ins to play some music on that display, no? Fortunately, most ellipticals nowadays are I-Pod compatible to make that happen. So, you can easily connect to home WiFi and even add speakers to blast your favorite music & video.
Keeping a record of how many calories you burnt can really motivate you to work more. As a result, many ellipticals offer Bluetooth connectivity that you can use to export your data in excel format. Seniors can then store this data to track their progress over the months.
Can Ellipticals Be Bad For Certain Seniors?
So far, you have found out about the many positive sides of using an elliptical as a senior. And deservedly so, since proper use of ellipticals will certainly help those rusty old bones get into shape.
However, there are a few cases where it’s best to not depend on ellipticals as much. Lest they might bring out unwanted results. Here’s a brief overview of two such cases:
Injuries already take a long time to heal when you are an old person. Your body just doesn’t have enough immunity to speed up the process anymore. So, it’s in your best interest to utilize all your free time for proper healing.
And you certainly don’t want anything that may cause the injury to prolong any further, do you know? Precisely. Actively continuing to use the elliptical in such a state will do just that.
Thus, it’s in your best interest to keep away from the elliptical if you have a hamstring injury. At least, until you’ve healed completely.
Extremely Low Bone Density
As you grow old, your bones naturally start to lose some of their density. But for some, it happens at an aggressive rate. In medical terminology, it’s known as osteoporosis.
Using the elliptical with extreme osteoporosis may accelerate that low-density progression. So, if you start to feel like it’s worsening, step away from the elliptical immediately. Exercising certainly is important, but not at the cost of your existing health issues.
So, are ellipticals good for seniors? What do you think after reading through the article? Well, we, for one, really recommend using it regularly to uphold the practice of exercising.
Of course, given that the person is physically and mentally able to exercise on an elliptical. Keeping up a habit of using the elliptical will for sure help them out in the long run. Even if it causes slight exhaustion at the moment, those old bones will feel much better later on.
But it’s also important to watch out that seniors don’t end up overworked on the elliptical. That will end up causing more harm than good. All in all, as long as they maintain proper precautionary measures, seniors can really benefit from using an elliptical regularly.
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