Today we are going to look at the best exercise machine for seniors. Not only are we going to look at the best strength training exercise machine for home, but also the best cardio machine for seniors as well as a budget option.
If you want to improve your strength and fitness at home and are new to strength training, it can be hard to choose the right equipment.
The market is full of all kinds of home exercise machines and gym equipment and if you don’t know what you are doing it’s easy to end up buying something completely useless.
In the worst-case scenario, you will buy something expensive, use it three times and forget about it after that. This is unfortunately how most home exercise machines end up used.
The worst thing is that the wrong equipment can get you discouraged and forget about exercise completely!
As I like to point out, for seniors (and everyone else really) exercise is one of the cornerstones of a healthy, happy and independent life. Strength training is especially important for improving and maintaining your physical health as you age. I would hate to see you give up exercise because of choosing the wrong equipment.
That’s why I have looked for the best exercise equipment for seniors to use either at home or at the gym to get excited about improving their physical fitness and health.
The Best Exercise Equipment For Seniors:
Here are my recommendations for the best exercise machines for seniors by category:
Elliptical machines are an excellent option for seniors to improve cardio. They have several benefits compared to exercise bikes and treadmills.
Firstly elliptical machines, also known as cross-trainers, are designed to have a low impact on the joints, especially the knees.
To accomplish this they have an elliptical pedaling motion instead of circular like in a stationary bike. This makes the motion resemble walking, which is more natural to your joints than a circular motion.
Elliptical machines typically have arm grips that allow you to use your arms and upper body to participate in the movement. This makes using an elliptical machine a full-body workout.
Due to the low impact nature, full-body exercise and added stability due to the handgrips, elliptical machines are the perfect option to do cardio for seniors.
A Fitbit? Really? I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. An activity bracelet or a fitness tracker like a Fitbit is actually a great exercise machine.
This is because there aren’t many exercises as effective as simple walking and having an active lifestyle.
A fitness tracker is very effective at both measuring and motivating you to increase your activity levels. If you are looking for a simple way to get more active by forming new habits, a Fitbit might just do the trick!
I talk more about fitness trackers in the article The Best Fitness Tracker For Seniors And The Elderly 
While elliptical machines and ellipticals are generally safer for seniors than treadmills, treadmills do have their advantages.
The greatest advantage of a treadmill is that it helps you maintain your balance skills because it mimics regular walking or jogging without support.
Maintaining and improving your balance should be one of your main health priorities as you age because falls are one of the leading causes of hospitalization for seniors.
The other advantage over low-impact exercise machines like exercise bikes and elliptical machines is the fact that impact actually prevents and improves osteoporosis and bone density.
The downside is that if you do have balance issues or suffer from joint issues, arthritis or knee pain, a treadmill can be unhealthy or even dangerous to use.
Electric bikes or e-bikes for short are great exercise machines for seniors. As you surely know, cycling is a very effective exercise that provides both benefits for cardiovascular health and leg strength.
Unfortunately cycling with a regular bike can be too taxing for seniors, especially in hilly terrain and for long distances. This can make cycling uncomfortable and taxing exercise that you start to avoid.
This is where electric bikes come to rescue! Electric bikes are just like regular bicycles except they have a small electric motor and a battery.
Even though the motors are rather small and much less powerful than in a moped, for example, they make all the difference for cycling. Even though the motor assists, you are still the main source of power and get plenty of exercises.
The assistance from the electric motor makes cycling a breeze, even in steep hills, and you will feel like you are young again cruising effortlessly with your e-bike!
E-bikes are simply great for seniors due to the fact that they make it more likely for you to choose a bicycle instead of a car or a taxi when going outside. In short, they encourage an active lifestyle.
Resistance chairs are a great option for seniors looking to do some resistance training at home but don’t have too much room to spare.
They are also a great option for seniors with disabilities since they are mainly used in a seated position. Resistance chairs use special exercise bands (aka Theraband) for resistance instead of heavy weights or pulley systems.
The great thing about resistance chairs is that they don’t take much space in your apartment or house as they can be used as a regular chair as well. You can even use them as an office chair in front of your laptop. They are also relatively affordable.
The cons of resistance chairs are that the bands can offer only so much resistance. They can be enough for improving health but if you get excited with strength training and want to continue improving, the resistance provided by the bands won’t be enough after a while.
It’s also hard to train your legs very effectively with resistance chairs since they are designed to be used in a sitting position. That said, you can train your legs relatively well with bodyweight squats and lunges.
If you don’t have room for large and bulky exercise equipment in your house or apartment but prefer to work out in the privacy of your home instead of a gym, you might be interested in the exercise equipment that doesn’t take too much room.
Bodyweight training, also known as calisthenics is your best bet if you don’t have room for exercise machines. You can actually train your whole body quite efficiently with bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, and pull-ups.
The strength that you acquire with bodyweight training is also very functional as it helps to improve your fine motor skills, body control, and balance.
Another great option is kettlebell training. Kettlebells offer an affordable form of free weight exercise that doesn’t take up as much room as barbells for example.
Also, the Therabands I talked about in the previous chapter are very compact and affordable exercise equipment that doesn’t take up much space or break the band.
You can train your whole body with both kettlebells and Therabans and both can be used as assistance for bodyweight training. Strength training really doesn’t have to be expensive or take up much space.
What makes a good exercise machine?
Let’s take a minute to look at what makes a good exercise machine for seniors. The first thing is safety. Untrained seniors are more prone to exercise injuries than younger adults due to age-related connective tissue deterioration and reduced tissue regeneration.
So you want something that is fairly simple to use and doesn’t require extreme ranges of motions or jerking explosive movements. Both can be effective factors of an exercise but they will increase the chance of injury.
The next thing you want is effectiveness. You’d think every exercise machine on the market would be effective but unfortunately, that is not the case.
The market is full of all sorts of ab-toning gadgets and thigh-toning devices that are simply useless plastic trash. These are often advertised on late-night TV commercials as the next best thing that will revolutionize exercising. Never believe this type of hype.
An effective exercise machine uses scientifically proven principles to effectively improve either strength or cardiovascular conditioning.
Here’s a great explanation by HelixUSA YouTube channel (YouTube embed. Content not created or owned by ElderStrength.com):
Thirdly we want our exercise machines to be versatile because, in all honesty, a one-trick pony is not something you want lying around taking space in your apartment.
Lastly, you want your home exercise equipment to be compact. If you are someone who has space for an entire home gym, great! You probably also have the cash to pay for someone to design and build it.
The rest of the world will likely have a shortage of space in their homes and the less space exercise machines take, the better.
Best home exercise machine for seniors to build strength
For improving strength there are a few important things to consider. With seniors, it’s much more important to improve the large muscles of the lower body and the midsection, so our exercise equipment has to be geared towards building leg strength.
It’s important to be able to exercise your upper body as well so you have to have some way for doing that as well.
Strength training requires enough resistance to cause stress to your muscles. If you can do over 20 repetitions on an exercise, it’s not optimal for building strength and muscle mass. So the exercise machine has to provide enough resistance.
Strength training relies on the principle of progression. You increase the weight or resistance gradually over time to increase the stress on your muscles, this will cause your muscles to adapt by becoming stronger and larger.
So as you can see, this is quite a lot to ask for an exercise machine. Then again you can accomplish all that just using your body weight. Bodyweight exercise is not ideal for most seniors however. Because it requires a certain level of strength to begin with and it can be very uncomfortable especially if you have joint or back issues.
In all honesty, there really isn’t a machine on the market that could handle all that. That’s why our recommendation would be to get a set of adjustable dumbbells like these:
Dumbbells can be used to exercise your whole body by doing movements like squats, Romanian deadlifts, lateral raises and bent over rows. I have a whole dumbbell workout for seniors explained here and I also give some tips for training with dumbbells in the article Hand Weight Exercises For Seniors [With Tips].
Dumbbells are especially effective for training the upper body and building muscle in the arms (which is the best way to reduce flabby arms in seniors). To improve your leg strength and balance you can invest in some resistance bands and a balance board.
Best home exercise machine for cardio
For improving cardio you want something that can do both low-intensity steady-state cardio and high-intensity interval training. This way you can do some long cardio workouts and some more intense HIIT workouts on the same device.
Many people choose cardio over strength training for fat loss but that’s not always wise. Reasonable amounts of cardio will definitely improve your health but strength training and diet are actually more important for successful fat loss. You can learn more about optimal weight loss in my resource for the best weight loss programs for seniors.
A recumbent stationary bike is the perfect home cardio machine for seniors for several reasons. A modern stationary bike allows several different programs and heart rate monitoring, which is great for adjusting the workout according to your fitness level.
Recumbent bikes provide a more comfortable and natural sitting position that will prevent lower back pain in most seniors. It also safer to climb on than an elliptical machine for example and you can’t really fall of one. Cycling is also much better for the knees and hips than running on a treadmill.
My recommendation is the Exerpeutic 1000 Magnetic Hig Capacity Recumbent Exercise Bike for Seniors.
It is a recumbent exercise bike designed specifically for seniors. It features a step-through design that makes it very easy and safe to use. It has a wider seat than typical exercise bikes for added comfort as well.
The bike is equipped with a transportation wheel to make moving it around easier and it can handle body weight up to 300 lbs. The mechanics are equipped with an 8 level magnetic tension control that allows you to adjust the resistance depending on your workout and fitness level.
It’s equipped with a large easy to read LCD screen that indicates time, speed, distance, calories, and heart rate. This is truly the perfect exercise bike for seniors and you will definitely enjoy doing your cardio on this. The best thing is that you can do it in front of the telly!
Best exercise machine on a budget
If you are on a budget I have a great solution for you! This option is actually great for anyone looking for home exercise equipment. You don’t really need to break the bank to have effective workouts at home.
For improving overall strength and conditioning, there is no better option than kettlebells! They are super effective and extremely affordable. They won’t take up any space in your home because they fit under the bed for example.
You can start with a light one and once lifting it becomes a breeze, you can get a heavier one and use the light one for upper body exercises for example.
You can find more information on kettlebell exercises in the article Kettlebell For Seniors [Short Guide].
Exercise Equipment For Seniors Q&A
Q: Should seniors focus more on cardio or strength training equipment?
A: While both forms of exercise are important, strength training is by far the most important form of exercise for seniors. You need some amount of cardio to keep your heart healthy but strength training will help you maintain and improve muscle mass and strength as well as bone mass.
Muscle mass and strength are important for both independent movement as well as longevity. Muscle mass will help you maintain your posture, move more easily, burn off fat and increase longevity.
Q: Exercise equipment is too expensive, I can’t afford to exercise!
A: There is no need to pay for expensive exercise equipment to simply get exercise. So money is no excuse to not to exercise! Simple bodyweight training and daily walks is enough to get most of the health benefits of strength training and cardio.
Exercise equipment is mainly useful for making exercise more enjoyable as they help you vary your exercises and help you track your exercises so you know if you’ve been active enough or improved.
Q: Won’t lifting weights make you bulky? I just want to get lean and toned.
A: No. Strength training won’t make you look like a bodybuilder by accident. There are only two variables that define how lean or “toned” you look. Amount of body fat and amount of muscle mass. There are no different types of muscles and exercise doesn’t affect how your muscles look like other than either increasing or decreasing their volume.
Seniors that do strength training will see gradual change over time. Your posture will likely improve, you might look a bit more healthy and strong but building “bulky” muscle requires years of training and in most cases anabolic steroids so this is not something you need to be afraid of.
I hope you found these recommendations for the best exercise equipment for seniors useful and will try the products yourself.
If you have any questions about them or about exercise equipment, in general, I would be happy to help you out. Just leave a comment on the form below and I will get back to you soon!
Exercise is extremely important for your health as you get older and investing in exercise equipment is never a bad decision.
However, it’s important to invest in the right equipment and stick with the exercise routine. The exercise equipment can’t do the workouts for you, no matter how good they are.
Naturally, the exercise equipment you use will also affect your motivation to exercise. If you use low-quality equipment or choose the wrong kind of exercise machines for your personal preference, you are much more likely to quit.
So my advice is to stick to high-quality exercise machines that you like. Motivation is the most important thing in physical fitness because consistency is the only thing that creates lasting results. And you won’t stay consistent if you don’t have motivation.
If you want to find out more about strength training and exercise for seniors please bookmark my site and subscribe to my newsletter.
See you next time!