Elliptical machines are the most effective form of cardio you can do at the comfort of your home. Today we’re going to look at the best elliptical for seniors in 2020!
Since you are reading this, then chances are you are already familiar with the great benefits an elliptical machine provides over other cardio machines.
The elliptical machine is the perfect cardio machine for your home gym due to the small footprint, highly effective cardiovascular effect and safety.
Treadmills are very effective if you can run on them but on walking speed half of your body is doing no work. Also, the impact on the knees is much harder when compared to an elliptical machine. And there’s, of course, the obvious risk of falling.
Exercise bikes are a more stable and thus safer option for seniors but they still lack one key compound. They don’t use your upper body any more than the treadmills do, maybe even less.
This is where elliptical machines, also known as cross trainers come in. The name elliptical refers to the elliptical revolution of the foot pedals that are meant to emulate a more natural movement pattern than regular cycling.
They also deploy your whole upper body by featuring handgrips that allow force transfer to the revolving system. They function across your body, thus the name cross-trainer.
This makes them superior for improving cardiovascular health because you are activating a larger proportion of your muscle mass. This can literally double or even triple the effectiveness when compared to a treadmill or an exercise bike.
What’s even better is than at least in my experience you don’t really notice the added effectiveness during the exercise. Meaning that even though you are working harder, you don’t necessarily realize it.
I guess this due to lactic acid that builds up in your muscle tissues during strenuous exercise. You can push a single muscle group, like your legs, only to a certain limit until lactic acid starts to build up. This causes the burning feeling in your muscles during strenuous exercise.
This automatically limits how hard a single muscle group can function. When you use an elliptical machine an individual muscle can work below the lactate threshold where lactic acid starts to build up.
But since more muscles are involved in the exercise you can burn more calories in the same time period than pushing your limits on an exercise bike.
So if you are looking for an elliptical machine I think you have made a great decision. However not all elliptical machines are created equal, so let me help you find the best option on the market!
Let’s start by taking a short look at what elliptical machines actually are, why they are so great and what benefits do they have for seniors.
What are elliptical machines (cross trainers)
Elliptical machines, also known as cross trainers, are exercise machines that include a revolving flywheel with a resistance mechanism, pedals, and vertical arms.
Elliptical machines are considered low-impact exercise machines because of the reduced impact on joints. This is because the motion of the pedals is elliptical in shape (hence the name) instead of circular like in exercise bikes.
This makes the leg movement more fluid and helps to keep the users’ heels in contact with the pedals at all times, reducing tendon and joint stress.
This combined with the fact that you can (and should) use the vertical arms to bring additional force to the system with your arms and upper body can make the Relative Perceived Exertion or RPE lower.
If you add a bit of torso twist and seriously use your back and chest muscles, you can include most of the larger muscle groups of your body in the exercise.
The first elliptical machines were introduced in the 1980s and they became known to the masses by cheesy late-night commercials promising all kinds of benefits compared to other forms of exercise.
Everything from building six-pack abs to a bigger butt and bulging biceps is possibly simply by using them for 10 minutes a day! Can you believe it?!
While they are pretty good at providing you with cardiovascular exercise, they’re not THAT special. Still, there is truth to the fact that they have several benefits compared to treadmills or exercise bikes, which are the closest counterparts.
Besides the flywheel, vertical arms and pedals, the elliptical machine typically features a frame to house the flywheel, stationary arm for support or pure leg work and a center console with a screen.
The center console typically provides you with information on your workout and allows you to choose different types of programs and resistance. Just like in your typical exercise bike.
Inside the flywheel housing is also the resistance system. This provides you varying levels of resistance depending on your program. This can be either a mechanical friction base, magnetic or based on air resistance.
There are also incline cross trainers that simulate going on an incline, just like the name suggests. I will focus on the regular vertical elliptical in this post because they are easier to use for seniors and you can get a higher quality device for the same price.
Benefits of cross trainers for seniors
The cross trainer introduces all the benefits of cardiovascular exercise to seniors. Due to the full-body nature of the exercise, it is also great for relieving muscle tension and improving circulation in the whole body.
While elliptical machines aren’t really considered strength training, they will help you activate all the muscles of your body which is always better than not training at all.
I still recommend doing strength training along with cardio but elliptical machines are very effective for improving your cardiovascular health, muscle activation, and fat loss. If you want to tone flabby arms, for example, strength training is superior.
Cardiovascular health is especially beneficial for mental health in seniors as well as the typical benefits of improving and maintaining your heart health, improving lung capacity, improving fat metabolism and simply making life easier and more enjoyable. Try it, you’ll love it!
Since the elliptical machine is used in a standing position while moving your whole body, they are great for improving balance as well, especially if you have balance issues.
This is because they provide just enough support so you don’t have to be afraid of falling while activating all the muscles needed for good balance. Just take it easy when starting and be extra careful getting on and off the device.
What to look for in an elliptical machine for seniors
When you are looking for an elliptical machine for home use, there are several considerations to take. The first is the practical question of size. I don’t know about you but I don’t like my exercise equipment taking up any more room in my house than they need to.
Fortunately, there are reasonably compact elliptical machines on the market these days. These are always “center drive” types where the flywheel and resistance system is situated in the center of the machine, between the pedals.
Some larger (and older) models feature a rear or front-drive construction that is unnecessarily bulky for home use in my opinion.
You should still keep in mind that an elliptical machine will take a surprisingly large amount of space so make sure you have enough to spare in a suitable room. You should add about a foot of free space around the machine for ease of use, cleaning, and maintenance.
Besides a center drive design, the machine should feature high quality and easy to use interface with a large display. I recommend getting a model with Bluetooth connectivity so you can track your exercises with your favorite fitness tracker app like Fitbit or on your laptop.
While there are some really affordable cross trainer models on the market, I would invest at least a bit on quality. Choose a well-established brand with good reviews instead of the supermarket brand.
Cheap exercise equipment, especially cardio machines tend to break really easily and they are usually downright flimsy and even dangerous.
Speaking of flimsy, choose a model that can easily support your body weight. Generally speaking, the lighter and smaller the machine is, the less likely it will be to endure a higher bodyweight.
Best elliptical machine for senior citizens
After several hours of research, my recommendation for the best elliptical machine for seniors on the market today is the Sole Fitness E35
SOLE is a well-established exercise equipment manufacturer that has been providing exercise equipment in Nort America for decades. They have a good reputation for customer service and respecting their warranties, which has made the fastest growing fitness brand in the USA and Canada for the last 5 years.
Their treadmills and ellipticals can be found in many hotels that provide In-Room Fitness programs. Their equipment is designed and tested to hold up to the rigors of hotel use and conditions.
The engineering for hotel use has evolved into unsurpassed quality into the consumer market. Simply put their devices last for a lifetime. Or if they don’t, they can be repaired, unlike most cheap exercise equipment.
No wonder they have received several Best Buy reviews and ratings from the most reputable consumer review sources. One of their leading design principles is that their users are looking to use their machines for exercising, not spending time repairing them. They stand by this principle by providing the best warranties of the industry.
The 35 is a sturdy elliptical machine that features adjustable pedals, console, stride, and incline. It features 20 to 22-inch stride length, six standard programs, and two custom programs.
The machine features pulse grip and chest strap heart rate monitoring that is displayed on a 7.5-inch display with a built-in sound system and a water bottle holder.
The device can handle user weights up to 375lbs so most people will be able to use it safely. On the other hand, the device is on the heavier side with a weight of 230 lbs, so most seniors won’t be able to pudge it on their own.
The warranty is exceptional with a lifetime warranty for the frame, five years for the electronics and two years for labor. The average user review of 4.1 out of 5 tells everything you need.
Many users praise the device for its extremely good build quality, adjustability, and stability. You won’t regret getting this machine if you are looking for a high quality elliptical!
Best elliptical machine on a budget
If you are on a limited budget and are still determined to buy an elliptical machine, my recommendation is the ANCHEER Elliptical Machine.
ANCHEER is an American premier fitness distributor of high-quality exercise equipment. The company is situated in Los Angeles but they are actually just a distributor of top manufacturers in Taiwan and China. Hense the lower pricing.
They have been in business for over a decade and have established themselves as one of the fastest-growing companies in the health and fitness equipment industry.
What I especially like about their company is that their top priorities are customer support and satisfaction. This is definitely not the case with most low-cost exercise equipment companies.
Their elliptical machine seems to reflect these priorities as witnesse with the average customer review of 4.6 out of 5 stars.
The ANCHEER elliptical features a sturdy but relatively compact design. The resistance system is based on magnetic resistance which is the industry standard in higher quality cross-trainers these days. There are 8 levels of resistance.
The console features an advanced digital monitor that helps you plan and record your workout statistics by displaying distance, calories, time, speed and target heart zone. You don’t need an external heart rate monitor either because the machine features pulse rate measuring grips.
The flywheel design provides smooth and quiet operation and the frame can support weights up to 330lbs so it should be suitable for the vast majority of seniors.
The design is also relatively easily movable as it features wheels on the front in case you need to move the device from room to room or for cleaning.
The best part is the incredible warranty for the price. The distributor has a three-year quality warranty! They will provide free replacement parts within the warranty period in case of failure. This is definitely something you don’t generally see in this price class.
I hope you enjoyed my recommendations for the best elliptical machine for seniors and found a suitable model for yourself. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below. I’ll do my best to answer you quickly to the best of my knowledge.
Cross trainers or elliptical machines are a great option for doing cardio at home for seniors because of their effectiveness, low impact nature, and safety.
Just make sure to choose your model wisely as there are a lot of low-quality products on the market. If you don’t have the money to buy a reasonable quality model (like the budget model I introduced), I would either recommend to save for a bit or to not get an elliptical machine at all.
There are cheaper and even free ways of getting your cardio especially if you are comfortable stepping outside every now and then.
Of course, the decision is up to you and if you like the idea of exercising at home and can afford an elliptical, I encourage you to get one. They are very effective devices and the most important thing is to find a form of exercise you enjoy.
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See you next time!