Exercise equipment for seniors does not differ that much from exercise equipment for everyone else, frankly. The differences (with some exceptions) are more on which exercises you do and to what extent.
Exercise is vital to good health, and this principle becomes even more important as we age. In a world full of lockdowns, crazy traffic, and packed gyms though it can be somewhat inconvenient to make your way to a gym on a regular basis.
For those who are looking at other alternatives, there’s an entire world of at-home exercise equipment available to them. The problem comes with being able to separate the wheat from the chaff. There’s so much exercise equipment out there and not all of it is created equal.
So how do you know what to choose? Which exercise equipment makes the best choice for seniors? Check out our thoughts on the subject below.
These are 13 great types of exercise equipment for seniors.
These things are fantastic, and as a personal trainer, I enjoyed teaching my clients how to use them. They can be used for hip abductions, clamshells, tricep extensions, band pull aparts, rows, and a whole lot more. These come in a variety of tensions as well meaning anybody can use these, regardless of fitness level.
The below video will better display to you some of the options that are available to you with these great products.
While there are several manufacturers for these products out there – and to tell the truth – they’re all just selling a glorified rubber band, I do have a preference for Perform Better minibands. They don’t have the chalky feel that a lot of the other minibands on the market do.
- Mini-Bands can be used anywhere – on the field, at home, in the clinic or gym, or even when traveling.
- Effective for both upper and lower body training.
2) Hand Grips
Are these the hardest piece of exercise equipment around to use? No. Are these going to give you a fantastic workout of themselves? No.
But hand grips do still serve a purpose. For many, grip strength gradually weakens as time goes on. This can make it difficult to hang onto heavy items, to open jars, or to safely perform other tasks around the house as well.
- One Set Of Two Quality Foam Hand Grippers Perfect For Athletes,Use To Increase Finger, Hand And Forearm Strength And Stamina
- Rehabilitate And Relieve Pain Using The Hand Strengthener, For Conditions Such As: Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis
Hand grips help one to build up their hand strength, helping to prevent all those problems from happening. So, while these shouldn’t be the sole tool you use to challenge your body physically, they are a good component for a part of the body that’s often overlooked.
3) Recumbent Bicycles
For the older individual who is looking for a means of exercising outside, a recumbent bicycle can serve as a great mode of exercise. These types of bikes are very easy to get on compared to some other bikes, enable the user to sit in a reclined position, and the 3-wheel models don’t require any balance whatsoever. We wrote an article on this very subject, how to select a 3-wheel bike for seniors.
That means there’s virtually no worries about tipping over as you ride this style of bike.
4) Stationary Recumbent Bicycles
Sometimes the weather doesn’t permit getting outside to walk, hike, or ride one’s bike. For such an instance a stationary recumbent bicycle can make a great addition to a home gym. Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise, meaning it doesn’t impart a lot of pounding on the joints, and recumbent models of bicycles are easy to get into the seat of as well.
- With enhanced Bluetooth connectivity, users can set, track and monitor progress with popular app-based tracking tools
- Explore the world and discover 50+ global routes that auto-adjust in real time to your speed (Explore the World subscription required)
Another cool thing about these products is that you can really crank up your heart rate on them if you want to. Whether you’re fiddling with the tension, or changing up your RPMs, a stationary recumbent bicycle can serve as a great source of exercise for an older adult.
Like the 3-wheel bikes, we also wrote an article on the best exercise bikes for seniors.
5) Gymnastic Rings
I know what you’re thinking, there’s no way you’re going to hang from these, flip around in the air like an Olympian, etcetera. Rest assured, you don’t have to!
These are the original and way less expensive alternative to the TRX system. While most people associate them with the Olympians doing the iron cross, there are a wide array of exercises that can easily be accomplished by even an older exerciser.
- 【1500lbs Capacity】The 32mm thick exercises gymnastic rings are made of birch wood, which is a natural material used for making premium sports gear. The pull up rings have great weight capacity up to 1500lbs/680kg, secure and durable.
- 【Wider Adjustable Straps】Our 1.5 inches/3.8cm straps are wider than the competition, so they are safer and more durable. The adjustable straps with scale ensure that the training rings are always at the same height. The little touch fasteners we provide help you tidy up the strap ends so they don’t get in your way during the exercise.
Bicep curls, ring rows, ring pushups, chair squats, and more are just some of the options that are available here. To adjust the intensity on ring exercises, normally all you have to do is move your feet either closer towards or further away from the anchor point of the rings (typically further away). The more body weight you must support, the heavier the exercise will be.
As such these are an incredibly versatile piece of exercise equipment that can add a lot of variety to your gym with minimal space and investment.
6) A Cable Station
Cable stations are easily one of the most versatile pieces of equipment in the gym. There are so many things that you can do with them, and for those that are struggling with injuries, cable stations often provide several alternative means of working around such injuries.
Given that these are a form of doing strength training as well, these serve as a great way to combat bone loss, to build muscle mass, to lose fat mass, and more. A cable station can easily be scaled to anyone’s level of fitness as well.
- HEAVY DUTY CABLE MACHINE- The BD-61 is constructed of high-quality steel for a strong and durable unit in your home gym! The rubber base caps that encase each foot provide further safety, stability, and protection to your gym floor. You also have the option to mount this Cable Crossover Machine to the ground for further stability (hardware included).
- ADJUSTABLE- Features 16 adjustable positions and a cable pulley system that works with you as you step out for more stretch and a more intense workout! The 2 single strap handles are adjustable and attach to the pulley system. Perfect for your work from home fitness!
Should somebody with bad balance issues what to work out but are (rightfully) concerned about falling over with dumbbells in their hands, a cable station with a chair in front of it can provide everything one needs to get a quality and tiring strength training workout in without having to worry about falling.
These are a more expensive piece of gym equipment, but if you had to only pick one piece of strength training equipment out there for an older client, this would likely be one of your best bets.
Treadmills are a good option for those who have the balance and ability to safely use them without hurting themselves. For those who have a hard time navigating that first initial step up or down, or for those who have an unsteady gate, they may want to look elsewhere for a form of exercise equipment.
That said, there are several benefits that an older person can get from using a treadmill. For starters, walking is a weight-bearing exercise, meaning that it’s good for those who are suffering from bone loss. Weight-bearing exercise is exactly what’s needed in cases of osteopenia to inhibit further bone loss and to rebuild what has been lost.
While strength training is easily the best form of exercise for such, that doesn’t mean that a treadmill is to be discounted. There’s a lot of benefit that can be received from using such, and for those whose knees don’t tolerate the regular bending of a bicycle, this may prove to be the best bet.
8) Seated Ellipticals
These work well for the person who struggles with knee pain. In many circumstances as a trainer, I was able to get somebody with chronic knee pain who couldn’t tolerate an exercise bike to utilize a seated elliptical without any issue whatsoever. Something about the way the seats on seated ellipticals can be adjusted makes it so that one doesn’t have to bend their knee as deeply to complete the rotation of the pedals.
- LT3 PREMIUM FEATURES: Upgraded UltraGlide Bearings promise long-lasting frictionless motion for fluid start up and stride transitions; SoftStep Pedals with durable grip surface for added traction and control; Larger ComfortSelect Seat with more positioning options; SureGrip handles with high-grade polyurethane coating for unmatched durability.
- ZERO-IMPACT EXERCISE: Ideal for all fitness levels. The naturally-reclined seated position eliminates stress on the joints and back and reduces body fatigue while delivering a total body, fat-burning cardio workout. A great exercise option for those with Arthritis, Parkinson's or MS.
Add in that these are easy to get on and off, they are low-impact, and one can get the upper body in motion with these as well, and you have a winner.
9) Rower Machines
The only caveat with a rower machine is that it’s going to need to be placed near a wall with a handrail if you want somebody who’s older to be able to get on and off it as easily as possible. These are a fantastic form of exercise.
- This item benefits from an Extended 90 Day Return Window
- Low impact workout that engages all major muscle groups; work legs, core and arms with a smooth, high calorie-burning motion
Once more, the intensity can be adjusted to accommodate whatever it is that you’re looking for here. These aren’t as intuitive to use as many people think they are, and it does take a bit of coaching to figure out if you’re using one correctly or not.
I highly recommend checking out the below video for advice on how to use proper form on a rower machine.
10) Schwinn Airdyne Bikes
These are just cool. While a little more difficult to get onto than the other bikes on this list, a Schwinn Airdyne can serve as a great source of cardio. They operate off a flywheel system, meaning that they can give you an incredibly good workout that will absolutely kick your butt.
- Progressive wind resistance for infinite levels of challenge
- Efficient single-stage belt drive that keeps it running quietly
If that’s not what you’re looking for, adjust the tension and just pedal slower. The Airdyne is an incredibly versatile tool that can scale the intensity up or down to whatever it is that you’re looking for.
Say what you want about this being a TV gimmick, but this is one of the few great infomercial products. Many people don’t exercise at home because they don’t have the space for equipment, the physical ability to routinely move equipment into and out of the middle of the floor, or because they don’t have the money that a new treadmill requires.
- COMPACT ELLIPTICAL - Leading compact and ergonomic mini elliptical that lets you workout or rehab while you sit at home or the office.
- REHAB AND FITNESS EXERCISE PEDDLER - The smooth gliding motion can be switched between 8 resistance levels to increase desk exercise as you gain strength.
A Cubii in contrast is something that can easily be used by virtually everyone. They’re $250, but they enable you to exercise as you’re watching TV, working on bills, or even crocheting. All one has to do is to put the Cubii at the base of the couch, and they’re good to go.
Is this going to be the most intense workout out there? No, it’s not, but that’s not the point. The point is to help get people moving – to get them to engage in more activity daily.
And for that, the Cubii excels.
12) Exercise Table
How on earth can a table be a valuable source of exercise for an older adult? Easy.
It allows one to do on-the-floor exercises without having to get down on the floor. This means someone can engage in bridges, clams, fire hydrants, Russian twists, knee pushups, hip abductions, foam roller work, and other traditional floor work without having to worry about having to figure out how to get back off the floor.
- Beech Hardwood Frame / Multiple Frame Support Cables / Threaded Support Bar
- 2” High Density Foam Deck / Water & Oil Resistant PU Leather Upholstery
Seated exercises as well as those that traditionally require a bench such as seated shoulder presses, chair squats, dumbbell kickbacks, dumbbell rows, and more can also be utilized with such a surface.
In short, if you’re looking for a way to make your home gym as versatile as possible without adding a host of new gizmos and gadgets, an exercise table may be just what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a way to do cardio for somebody who has a lot of joint pain, is too heavy to use other pieces of exercise equipment, or is very frail, a Nu Step can serve as a great form of low-intensity cardio.
These come with an adjustable tension knob that gives you ten possible levels of resistance, are incredibly easy to adjust the seat on, and for the newer models, adjusting the handles only requires the unfastening of a clip (older models require turning a screw to adjust the handles).
- Displays: Steps per minute, Watts, METS, Time, Steps, Workload, Calories, Heart RATE
- 10 workload settings ...Seat Adjustment: 15" range
Once on, the user will be able to challenge their legs and – to a lesser extent – their upper body as well. In the past as a trainer, I have had people use the arms exclusively should their legs not permit (e.g., recent surgery), so that is an option here as well. While on the expensive side of this list, a Nu-Step is a machine that many claim is worth every penny.
Exercise Equipment for Seniors Summary
A home gym is a great way to ensure that you’re giving your body the daily exercise that it needs to function properly. And while there is undoubtedly a lot of other great exercise equipment out there, much of it is either going to require quite a bit of coaching to use correctly (here’s looking to you, kettlebells), or it’s not going to be the best option for an older individual to utilize by their self.
After working in a gym setting for 8 years, I believe that the above options are the best of the best when it comes to at-home exercise equipment for seniors.
What are your thoughts on the situation though? Is there other equipment out there you’ve been able to use to great success? Is there equipment out there you don’t think is great for an older client? Do you agree with our assessment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!