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In later life, there is no reason that we cannot still enjoy an active lifestyle. For many seniors, this involves walking, swimming, and many other forms of exercise. But what a lot of people forget to consider is bringing exercise equipment into the home.
An elliptical trainer is just one of the many types of at-home workout machines that can be used to lose weight, strengthen muscles and joints, improve balance, and much more. However, for older adults, it is important that these machines have certain features that make them safe and easy to use.
Elliptical Machines for Seniors Comparison Chart
Schwinn 470 Elliptical Trainer
Teeter LT3 FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical
Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical Machine Trainer
Cubii JR1 Under Desk Elliptical Machine
Bowflex M8 Max Trainer Series
70.1" (L) x 28.2" (W) x 63.2" (H)
54" (L) x 38" (W) x 52.5" (H)
55" (L) x 23" (W) x 64.5" (H)
23.15" (L) x 17.54" (W) x 10" (H)
47.9" (L) x 30.8" (W) x 65.2" (H)
Number of Workout Programs
Max User Weight
What is an Elliptical Trainer?
An elliptical trainer is a workout machine that mimics going up a flight of stairs, walking, or running. These devices are sometimes called cross-trainers, depending on where you are from and while they can be rather large, they are ideal for a home gym.
The elliptical trainer has two footplates that the user ‘walks’ on and two handles that move simultaneously with the feet. However, there are also compact models that can be used whilst seated and work using a simple stepping motion.
Are Elliptical Trainers Suitable for Seniors?
When looking at workout equipment for seniors, it is important to consider whether the equipment will be suitable. For example, will it put any unnecessary pressure on existing conditions? The great thing about an elliptical trainer is that this is a very low-impact form of exercise meaning that very little pressure is put on the joints. For this reason, older people struggling with conditions like arthritis may benefit.
Since this type of exercise increases blood flow to the joints and muscles, it may be suitable for rehabilitation and to strengthen these areas. Not only this, but an elliptical machine requires no previous experience or knowledge to use and is easy to understand. But the benefits certainly do not end here.
- As we age, it can become more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. One of the huge advantages of using an elliptical machine is that they are a good way to burn calories. Staying at a healthy weight can make a significant difference to other health conditions, including improving joint pain.
- Working out with your elliptical machine can go a long way in improving your balance. When we reach our golden years, balance can diminish and this may result in accidents involving trips and falls. According to Harvard, older adults who include a daily exercise routine in their lives tend to experience fewer falls.
- When you work out, even if it is a very gentle exercise on your elliptical trainer, your heart rate increases and this causes the blood flow to increase. As a result of repeated exercise, seniors may notice vast improvements in their cardiovascular health. The risk of cardiovascular disease is also significantly decreased.
- If you spend a lot of time alone, which sadly, a lot of seniors do, or if you are unable to get out of the house a lot, this can take a toll on your mental well-being. While exercise is by no means a replacement for social contact and hobbies, it can boost the mood significantly. This is because of a release of endorphins in the brain and this can mean the difference between falling into a very low mood and maintaining a happy mind.
While most seniors will be able to safely use an elliptical trainer, there may be people with certain conditions that are not suited to this type of equipment. For this reason, it is important that you consult your doctor before beginning this or any type of exercise routine.
Is a Treadmill or Elliptical Better for Seniors?
Depending on your needs and of course, your personal preference, there are many different types of exercise equipment you could use. An elliptical trainer is one of the most common and another frequently used piece of equipment is the treadmill. But it can be difficult to know which is best.
For older adults, an elliptical trainer does not put as much strain on the joints. Many seniors experience pain from conditions like osteoarthritis which can be eased when using an elliptical machine. This is because, unlike a treadmill, your feet will remain on the footpads at all times, reducing the pressure on the joints and giving you a more comfortable experience.
When using an elliptical trainer, you will get a good core workout. The shoulders are moving too so it isn’t difficult to see how many more areas are targeted. This is excellent news for people who are looking to maintain muscle tone. Furthermore, a strong core can lead to better balance and coordination.
In addition to this, an elliptical trainer is slightly safer to use thanks to its design. With the feet firmly planted at all times, there is less danger of falling.
A treadmill provides a cardio workout, whereas a full-size elliptical machine provides the user with a full-body workout. Both the legs and upper body are engaged, and this can be very beneficial for many reasons.
When it comes to burning calories, there is some suggestion that a treadmill will burn more calories when used at the same rate as an elliptical trainer. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that the main factor for burning calories is your heart rate. Provided that you can get the same heart rate boost on your elliptical machine as you would on a treadmill, there is no reason that similar numbers of calories can’t be burned. But you should also keep in mind that varying levels of intensity will need to be maintained in order to do this.
Types of Elliptical Trainers
An elliptical machine is very versatile and comes in many different forms. The type you choose will depend on your abilities but the good news is that even if you struggle to stand, there are machines that you can still use.
Standing Elliptical Trainer
The standing elliptical trainer is likely the one that you are most familiar with. These machines are seen in gyms across the world and allow the user to get a full-body workout. There are two foot pedals and two handles that move with one another to mimic the natural movement of your body.
However, if you only want to target the lower body, there are also standing elliptical trainers that feature a static handle.
Recumbent Elliptical Trainer
If you find it difficult to stand or want to reduce the strain on your joints, then a recumbent elliptical trainer might be more suited to you. These devices feature a seat and the pedaling motion tends to be much longer, hence the lowered stress on the joints. For users with balance problems, this can be a much safer alternative to the standing machine.
However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from a full-body workout since many recumbent elliptical machines also feature moving handles to mimic the action of the standing trainer.
Under-Desk Elliptical Trainer
If you are short on space, but still want to reap the benefits associated with using an elliptical trainer then an under-desk model might work well. These are great for people with limited mobility, since the user needs only to place the device where they are sitting. You also have the option to do other things while you work out, such as reading or watching TV.
Another excellent advantage of these machines is that they are portable. If you are going away on vacation or for a stay in the hospital, there is the option to take the equipment with you. Furthermore, they are much easier to store.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Elliptical Cross Trainer
Even after you have considered the type of elliptical trainer that you would like, there are further things that you should think about before making a final decision.
Many elliptical trainers come with a variety of preset workout programs. These are often tailored to specific needs such as losing weight or for cardio health. It can be helpful to look at your needs and search for an elliptical trainer that has a program to match these.
It can also be useful to look for a trainer that has the option to create a personalized workout. If you have very specific needs, this means you can create something tailored precisely to you.
If you have problems with strength, it may be difficult to use an elliptical trainer with a high level of resistance. Similarly, something with very low resistance may not give you enough to meet your needs. For this reason, it is imperative that you look for a machine that has adjustable resistance.
On less high-spec machines, there may be air-resistance and while this may save you a few dollars, this type of resistance tends to be more difficult to work with. Alternatively, the more expensive models use magnetic resistance which is much smoother.
You may also wish to look at how easy it is to adjust the resistance, although most machines will have up and down arrows on the console.
Depending on your stature, you may require varying stride lengths and it is important that the elliptical trainer can meet your needs here, otherwise you may end up over-exerting yourself. Typically, the stride length is between 19 and 22 inches although there are models that come with the option to adjust the stride, which is helpful if you and your spouse will be sharing the machine.
A standing elliptical trainer generally has a much greater stride length than their under-desk or recumbent counterparts.
Having the ability to adjust the incline of the machine allows you to get a much more even full-body workout. For example, when you set the incline higher, this will work out the lower legs and the back much more. In contrast, a more level incline will work out the upper body.
There should be an option to adjust the incline and you will also find that this will automatically adjust when using some of the preset workout programs.
To use your equipment safely, you must make sure that your weight does not exceed the weight limit of the machine. If you are a larger person, there are machines that are designed for heavier adults and this will give you much greater stability.
The elliptical trainer will generally come with a display screen that features details on the workout you are doing, your heart rate, the incline, and many other things. In addition to this, there will be either touch settings or buttons that you can use to control the machine.
It is important that you get a machine with a screen that is clear and easy to understand. You should avoid screens with small text, especially if you are visually impaired. A backlit display typically makes things much easier to see.
Some elliptical trainers can be very large and while this is fine if you have space, many seniors will want a machine that doesn’t get in the way. If you want a standing elliptical trainer or a recumbent machine, these are typically much larger. However, there are folding models which are much easier to store.
However, if you are pushed for space then an under-desk version is far more compact. When you have finished, this type of trainer will store easily in a cupboard.
Best Elliptical Trainers for Home Workouts for Seniors
There are many elliptical trainers on the market, some are better than others. Even after you have considered your needs and the type of trainer you would like, it pays to carefully look at each option. We have put together a list of our favorites elliptical trainers.
1. Schwinn 470 Elliptical Trainer
In modern times, there are many options for tracking your health including a smartphone app. If you like this idea then this elliptical trainer may be right for you since it has Bluetooth connectivity to a range of health apps.
The trainer comes with 29 preset programs that cover a wide range of needs. However, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, there are 4 custom programs that you can set to your liking. Furthermore, there are 25 different resistance levels giving you versatile options and with a 20-inch stride length, this will suit most users.
The LCD display is clear and easy to understand making changing the settings a breeze, even if you are new to this type of equipment.
- Dimensions: 70.1″ (L) x 28.2″ (W) x 63.2″ (H)
- Stride length: 20″
- Resistance levels: 25
- Number of workout programs: 29
- Max user weight: 300 lbs
- Product weight: 164 lbs
2. Teeter LT3 FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical
One of the best things about this elliptical trainer is how smoothly it operates. If you want a friction-free experience then this may be the model for you. The machine boasts excellent traction on the pedals without compromising on their comfort so you get a safe and enjoyable workout.
This recumbent elliptical trainer features a wonderfully comfortable seat with soft cushioning that adds to the overall pleasant experience. The seat is fully adjustable and the trainer has lockable wheels for easy transportation and safe use.
The screen is incredibly easy to read with simple information displayed in a large font. However, since it is not backlit, users with vision problems may find it a little more difficult to see. While there is not a wide range of workout programs, the machine can be used with either both the arms and legs, or just the legs. The resistance can also be easily adjusted to suit your needs.
The company is expert in joint pain so you can feel confident that this machine has been created specifically for your needs.
- Dimensions: 54″ (L) x 38″ (W) x 52.5″ (H)
- Stride length: N/A
- Resistance levels: Manual adjustment
- Number of workout programs: 0
- Max user weight: 300 lbs
- Product weight: 110.2 lbs
3. Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical Machine Trainer
An elliptical trainer doesn’t need to cost the earth to have excellent features and the Sunny Health trainer is a fine example of this. This elliptical machine comes with a choice of 24 workout programs giving you plenty of versatility as well as adjustable resistance.
The backlit LCD display gives you a wide range of information including details of the current program, calories burned, speed, and much more, There is also a handy holder for your smartphone should you want to have another display in view.
The Sunny Health machine offers exceptionally smooth workouts thanks to the belt-drive mechanism and internal flywheel. The strong steel body ensures that this is a very stable and safe machine. With a weight capacity of up to 330lbs, this is a device that is suitable for most adult users.
- Dimensions: 55″ (L) x 23″ (W) x 64.5″ (H)
- Stride length: 15.5″
- Resistance levels: 16
- Number of workout programs: 24
- Max user weight: 330 lbs
- Product weight: 119 lbs
4. Cubii JR1 Under Desk Elliptical Machine
There are many things that make this a great under-desk elliptical trainer. Primarily, it operates extremely quietly so you are free to get on with other things without disturbing those around you or ruining your own peace.
There are eight resistance levels to choose from as well as the option to tune into a live workout. This is great if you want to mix up your training and get a little variety. What’s more, the machine is smooth and easy to use.
The LCD display screen provides you with all the important information you need and boasts large text that is easy to see. When you have finished, the compact design means that you can easily store the elliptical trainer until you want to use it again.
- Dimensions: 23.15″ (L) x 17.54″ (W) x 10″ (H)
- Stride length: 6.1″
- Resistance levels: 8
- Number of workout programs: 0
- Max user weight: 250 lbs
- Product weight: 27.5 lbs
5. Bowflex M8 Max Trainer Series
This is not only an extremely handy machine for people who need something that won’t take up a lot of room, but it is also excellent if you want to be able to do a diverse range of workouts. With the option to set the routine for as little as four minutes, this is great even if you want something fast. There are also seven workout programs to choose from.
There is a choice of twenty levels of resistance. When you begin, you might choose something lower but as your strength builds, there is plenty of scope to adjust. Seeing the settings and other important information is simple thanks to the backlit LCD display.
The machine has an incredibly small footprint and features wheels so that it can be easily moved into any cupboard or corner between uses.
- Dimensions: 47.9″ (L) x 30.8″ (W) x 65.2″ (H)
- Stride length: N/A
- Resistance levels: 20
- Number of workout programs: 7
- Max user weight: 300 lbs
- Product weight: 148 lbs