Why Seniors Should Use Elliptical Machines
If you are senior looking to get involved with exercise, an elliptical is a great choice. Many seniors put off starting an exercise program if they haven’t done one in years because they just don’t know where to start and feel like most exercise machines just aren’t tailored to them.
Run? Not likely. Even brisk walking can be a challenge for some seniors. Swimming is often touted as the best form of exercise for seniors because it’s no-impact but if you aren’t a fan of the water or simply don’t want to have to clean up after swimming, you may be on the hunt for an alternative.
Elliptical training can be your answer. Using the elliptical is a great choice for many older individuals because of the many benefits it has to offer.
Let’s take a quick look at what these are.
The first reason every senior should consider an elliptical trainer is because they’re non-impact in nature. Meaning, your back, knees, and ankles will all be protected.
If you are suffering from arthritis or osteoporosis in your older years, you need something that is as joint friendly as possible. The elliptical is perfect for this. Because it’s non-impact, you will get the same benefits as you would from swimming using this machine.
If you find most exercise leaves you in too much pain to carry on, you definitely will want to give the elliptical a try. It may be the exercise machine to change that.
They’re Relatively Easy To Use
Another great benefit of the elliptical is that it’s relatively easy to use. While you may take a day or two to get used to the movement when using the elliptical, by a week in, you’ll be a pro.
Because the elliptical is made to mimic the natural movements of walking, jogging, and stair climbing, these are things that all of us have done before. Therefore, once you get the hang of how the exercise machine moves, there should be no problem completing these workout sessions.
They Work Both The Upper And Lower Body
Next up we have the benefit of working the entire body in one session. One big problem with just walking as physical activity, which is often recommended to seniors is the fact that it’s only going to work the lower body, not the upper body.
This is very problematic because as you age, if you aren’t constantly using the muscles in the body, they will slowly begin to get weaker and then deteriorate, and this can significantly impact your quality of life. If your muscles weaken to a state where you can no longer perform day to day tasks because you don’t have the strength, you will then be dependent on someone else.
By doing exercise that helps to strengthen all the muscles in the body, you can prevent this from happening.
Those who are already participating in strength training activity may not need to concern themselves with this as strength training itself will build muscle appropriately but everyone else should be considering this. It is a big benefit that the elliptical has over other cardio machines such as the bike or the treadmill.
Another positive about the elliptical machine is that it’s adjustable. Don’t want to use such a high incline? No problem. You can make the pattern of movement more flat by simply decreasing the elevation.
Likewise, you can pedal backward if you find that movement more comfortable as well. It’s especially important for the senior exerciser that whatever workout session they are doing, they feel comfortable doing it.
Seniors don’t have the recovery availability that people in their 30’s and 40’s, do, therefore if the exercise is awkward or taking up too much energy just to manage it, never mind work at a decent intensity level, recovery time is going to be slow and this can put a damper in how often that individual is able to do the exercise throughout the week.
Furthermore, if the exercise in question does not feel like a natural movement to them, there is a greater chance that they may experience muscle soreness after the workout session is completed, which then is a big contributing factor to dropping off an exercise regime.
While some degree of muscle soreness is to be expected and can actually illustrate that you are doing something right since you are making progress, if you are so sore you can hardly move, that is enough to discourage any senior from ever trying again.
The more customizable a workout happens to be, the less likely this is to occur.
They Strengthen Key Muscles Important For Seniors
Another great benefit and reason for seniors to consider using an elliptical trainer is the fact that they strengthen key muscle groups in the body that seniors need to be using on a day to day basis.
It will be strengthening the quads and hamstrings, which make it possible to go up a flight of stairs and to stand up from the chair with ease.
It will also be strengthening the back muscles, which will be important for being able to open doors, cabinets, or anything else that needs to be pulled towards the body. It’ll strengthen the arms – biceps and triceps – which will be vital for carrying out everyday activities such as putting away groceries or cleaning the house, and it will even strengthen the core, which is important for keeping the body upright and using good posture.
Few other forms of exercise strengthen so many muscle groups at once, giving a well-rounded workout that you can count on time and time again. By using the elliptical trainer, you’ll give yourself the peace of mind that you are targeting all the vital muscles in the body and doing everything as you should.
They’re Fun To Use
Workout boredom is something everyone faces; young or old, it doesn’t really matter. It’s important for you to be interested and involved in your workout routine or it’s only a matter of time before you lose interest and just drop off completely.
Fortunately, the elliptical can help out with this. Most people will note that the elliptical is quite a fun machine to use, so they keep coming back for more. Unlike walking or cycling, it’s a movement pattern you don’t normally find yourself doing, so this makes it more interesting.
And, because there are a few different ways you can adjust and adapt the machine, this allows you to add more overall exercise variety, which also helps make it more interesting overall.
Elliptical machines also come with various programs that you can choose that will adjust the exercise intensity and pace as needed, ensuring that you are able to workout at an intensity level that’s right for you.
They Help Control Body Weight
One of the most important benefits for seniors that the elliptical offers is that it can help assist with bodyweight control. Weight gain as you get older is a very real thing.
This comes about due to two different reasons. First, you aren’t as active as you used to be in your earlier years and second, if you do begin to lose lean muscle mass tissue, this can result in a slower metabolic rate, meaning you burn fewer calories each and every day.
If you don’t eat less to control this, you are definitely going to wind up seeing the weight piling on.
The elliptical trainer can help you burn calories while doing it and if you exercise at a relatively good intensity level, may help you build muscle and permanently increase your total daily calorie burn. This means great things for controlling your body weight in the years to come.
Obesity is closely associated with diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, so something that you must strive to control.
They’re Good For Balance
Finally, the last reason that seniors should consider using the elliptical trainer is because they are great for keeping your balance in check. Many seniors do begin to lose their balance as they get older, but by using the elliptical, you can keep your balance abilities better, reducing your risk of falls.
Falls are one of the leading causes of broken hips in seniors, which can then be very damaging to the health. While the elliptical won’t place you at a risk for a fall as long as you hold onto the handle bars and exercise in a manner that doesn’t leave you dizzy, it will help you improve your balance and agility since you are constantly shifting your weight.
So this has very good transferability to your overall lifestyle and well-being.
As you can see, the elliptical trainer is one type of exercise that no senior should be missing out on. If you have never given it a try, now might just be the time to get yourself a machine and see what it has to offer. It’s never too late to start doing something good for your health.
Photo credit: Kzenon/Shutterstock; kurhan/Shutterstock; Paul Biryukov/Shutterstock