Updated: Sep 18
With age comes differences in body composition, and many people will find that their joints feel much different than in years pass. Stiffness and achiness control joint movement, and bones become weaker than they once were. Unfortunately, stiffer joints and weakening bones are inevitable, but with a proper exercise plan, these symptoms of older age can become less debilitating and major conditions like arthritis and osteopenia (the precursor to osteoporosis) can be prevented, improved or stalled.
However, not all exercises are right for everyone—especially when talking about the proper fitness regimen for older adults. Many people find they simply can’t complete the same high-impact exercise programs they did in their youth. Luckily, low-impact fitness allows people to receive all the benefits of exercise without putting large amounts of stress on their joints. This means improved health, longer life span and a happier life without risking injury or further damaging the body. Read on to learn the top four low-impact exercise machines to help baby boomers stay in shape.
Unlike a regular stationary bike, a recumbent bike allows the user to cycle from a reclined position, meaning less stress is put on the joints when compared to a traditional stationary bike. However, low impact doesn’t mean low results. When properly utilized, a recumbent bike can deliver a powerful workout, and because the user is seated throughout the entire workout, they can workout longer and with more intensity. Other benefits include:
Cardio Health – Cardiovascular exercises facilitates a plethora of health benefits, including: reduced chance of heart attack, weight loss and lower blood pressure. Recumbent bike users find they can workout longer than on other machines, meaning they can receive the same cardio benefits they would get from a higher impact method.
Reducing Depression – People who work out are less likely to suffer from depression, especially if they practice low impact exercise for an extended amount of time. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for everyone to workout for long periods of time; however, many find they can workout much longer on a recumbent bike versus other methods of exercise. This means that depression symptoms can be severely reduced in severity or even go away completely.
Prevent Arthritis – Jogging and running are considered two of the prime methods to get in cardio—even though they’re both hard on joints. Recumbent bikes have been shown to improve arthritis symptoms, including pain, as well as helping to prevent it in the first place if started early.
Elliptical machines are one of the most popular machines at gyms across the nation for a reason: they burn large amounts of fat while putting a low amount of stress on joints. Ellipticals also provide a full body workout as well as improving mobility.
Burn Belly Fat – No one is going to lose all of their belly fat by spending hours on an elliptical, but they can burn a lot! Ellipticals are considered one of the top ways to lose stubborn belly fat, especially when combined with HIIT (high intensity interval training). HIIT workouts work on by the user pushing themselves to a high level of exertion in very brief sprints before spending time recovering (it’s usually in a 1:4 ratio, or a 30 second sprint combined with two minutes at a moderate pace).
Full-Body Workout – Ellipticals aren’t simply working out the legs—they also workout the arms and core to provide a full-body workout that can’t be beat. This means that users can tone their entire body on only one machine, which means less time in the gym and more time doing what they love.
Improved Balance – Ellipticals are also one of the best machines for improving balance simply because they require the user to keep their balance throughout the entire workout. In fact, ellipticals have been used to work on balance with stroke patients, with one study showing a balance improvement of up to 28%.
The popularity of rowing machines has exploded the last few years, with many finding that this long ignored machine is the perfect addition to their fitness regime. Some of the benefits of rowing include:
Upper Body Workout – Rowing machines technically provide a full-body workout being they require all major muscle groups to engage; however, the upper body workout is one of the best one can receive on a cardio machine being it’s providing an excellent strength training workout as well. Strength training has been shown to promote better sleep and nocturnal blood pressure as well as building stronger muscles.
Great Alternative – Rowing machines are an excellent alternative to machines like ellipticals (due to the increased focus on ab work and treadmills (those who need less pressure on their knees). Due to the strength training the machine provides as well, it can be great for those planning to eventually add lifting weights to their regime.
All Fitness Levels – Anyone can use a rowing machine. It’s incredibly easy to adjust and the body naturally falls into the correct body position. The main thing to remember when using is keeping the back straight, but otherwise, the machine is perfect for beginners.
Power Walking on a Treadmill
Power walking simply means the user is moving their arms while walking at a brisk pace. This can mean a little more stress on the joints, but it’s still low enough to qualify as a low-impact exercise. Benefits include:
Lowered Blood Sugar – Baby boomers have been found to lower their blood pressure by walking for as little as 15 minutes at a pace that hovers just under 3 mph. This is great news for everyone, but especially diabetics, prediabetics and those who need to watch their sugar intake.
Reduced Back Pain – Lower back pain means debilitation for many people—no matter their age. One study found that when test groups were divided into two groups, one practicing strength training and the other walking, to alleviate back pain, the walkers actually came out on top.
Treadmills, ellipticals, recumbent bikes, and rowing machines all provide excellent low-impact workouts for those looking to lose weight and get fit without damaging their joints. Want to vary your workouts and start working out as soon as possible? Fitscope offers a variety of exercise videos for the aforementioned machines as well as yoga and strength training workouts to allow people to vary their workouts. Click here to learn more and receive a free one-week trial.