Choosing an elliptical (also called a cross trainer) to get in shape can quickly become one of the best decisions you make this year. As a senior, workout methods may be limited; however, an elliptical can provide one with a plethora of health benefits, including losing weight and improving balance. Read on to learn more about how an elliptical can help seniors get in the best shape of their lives.
Cardio Workouts Help Heart Health
Regularly practicing cardio can deliver an assortment of health benefits, including improving sleep quality and lowering stress levels. However, the main thing most people care about is their improved heart health. Cardio workouts require more oxygen and increased blood flow due to how much energy they’re consuming. This means the heart and lungs are working overtime when one works out. As one practices cardio more and more, the heart and lungs grow stronger. This increase in heart and lung strength means more efficient blood flow and oxygen absorption, so users won’t feel out of breath when walking up the stairs, decrease their heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, ward off health conditions like heart disease and improve their brain power.
The first thing most people think of when someone says strength training is usually increased muscle strength. While this is definitely a benefit that comes with a regular strength training, it’s far from the only benefit. The second thing people think of is usually some type of hand weight. While hand weights are an excellent way to get in a strength training workout, the elliptical provides a strength training workout as well. When you use an elliptical to exercise, you’re giving the glutes, quads, arms, back and core an intense strength training workout due to the heavy use of those muscle groups to complete the movements required to use an elliptical. Not only will users target those muscle groups, they’ll also experience an assortment of benefits ranging from burning calories more efficiently when not exercising as well as decreasing their body fat.
Everyone knows that regular exercise is integral to staying healthy. Most people find fitting in their cardio is easy enough; however, interchanging between leg, core and arm days to get in strength training can become tiresome and overwhelming to juggle (not to mention it’s easy to want to skip a day). When one uses an elliptical, they’re fitting in a full-body workout that’s providing them with the benefits of a cardio and strength training workout. While one shouldn’t rely strictly upon the elliptical for their strength training needs (more on that in a minute), they’re not going to experience the muscle imbalance commonly associated with people who only focus on specific parts of the body (think chicken legs on some bodybuilders). Instead, those who use an elliptical will have a proportional, lean appearance that will make anyone green with envy.
Workout Muscles Seniors Need
As people age, they find they rely more upon certain muscle groups than they did before. For example, while getting up from a chair in the past may not have felt like a big deal, it can cause pain and discomfort in older individuals. The prime way to alleviate this pain is by working out the quads and hamstring muscles, something the elliptical provides with every workout. Another big muscle group for seniors is their core. A weakened core can cause falls and poor posture (think chronic back pain). When one works out properly with an elliptical (straightened back, chest held high, abdominals sucked in), they’re ensuring their core is engaged, preventing pain or serious injury in the future.
Cardio machines provide an excellent workout for users of all ages, if they aren’t hard on the joints. When people are younger, they (usually) don’t have issues spending hours on the treadmill, running for hours on end. As people age, they commonly find their favorite cardio machines, including the treadmill and stair stepper, are simply too hard on their joints. These repetitive motions and constant pounding on knees, hips, back and ankles can eventually become incredibly painful, making high-impact machines essentially unusable. This is where an elliptical comes into play. Unlike other cardio machines, users simply propel themselves forward by keeping their legs on the pedals, instead of landing on hard plastic as seen on other machines. Instead, users will glide through the air, creating a weightless workout experience that puts no impact on the joints. This makes the elliptical the perfect machine for those who want to work out but may suffer from health conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis or frequent joint pain.
Easy to Use
Workout machines provide a plethora of benefits; however, many of them are difficult to put together and use. Rowing machines can be difficult to figure out the proper form while strength training machinery is bulky, heavy and (if not used correctly) can cause serious injury. Some of these machines can take weeks or even months to master the correct posture needed to experience the machine’s full benefits while ensuring proper form is always used. While there is proper technique to using an elliptical, users will find the machine easier to use than most machines due to the elliptical requiring them to be in a proper position to use it. The main thing beginners will notice when using an elliptical is the machine matching their body’s natural movement for walking/jogging/running and climbing stairs at the same time. While this feeling takes some getting used to, most people will be using the machine like a pro within a few workouts.
Tying in with our last point, a lot of exercise machines can be difficult to adjust for user’s height and fitness level. This can be especially noticeable at the gym, when nearly any machine one goes to needs adjusting before use. Once using the machine, many people may want to adjust speeds or resistance levels, especially if attempting to accomplish a HIIT workout. On some machines, changing anything can be cumbersome, resulting in people needing to get off their machines, adjust what they need and hop back on. Ellipticals are almost always easily adjusted to fit the user’s exercise level, and making modifications is incredibly easy. For example, people who want to work out different muscles in their legs simply need to walk backwards while those who need to adjust mid-workout simply need to make a couple of adjustments to get the right workout for their needs.
Great for Balance
As people get older, they find their balance simply isn’t what it used to be. Trips, slips and falls are much more common as people age; however, with a proper workout program, this doesn’t need to be the case. Most people lose their balance due to weakness in the core, back and leg muscles. To prevent falls, all three sections of the body must be strong, promoting proper balance. With an elliptical, users won’t need to worry about falling off the machine (as long as they hold onto the handlebars), will strengthen the muscle groups required for healthy balance and will improve balance by promoting a full-body workout.
Excellent Way to Get Healthy While Having Fun
Let’s be honest, workouts can become boring pretty quickly, especially when working out with the same machinery. With an elliptical, users don’t need to worry about their workouts becoming boring, easily changing up their workouts as needed as well as being a fun machine to use due to the ease of use. When one can easily add variety to their workouts, they’re more likely to stick with a workout program.
As stated above, while ellipticals provide an excellent full-body workout with both cardio and strength training benefits, users should also look to incorporate upper body strength training programs in their fitness plans as well (this is called cross-training). Many think they can only get a proper upper-body workout with free weights; however, there are other methods that may work better for some seniors. Resistance bands are one of the most popular pieces of exercise equipment available, providing an easy workout with equipment that’s easily stored. Simply use the bands for a few minutes with the elliptical and see results sooner than you can imagine. Fitscope proudly offers cross-training programs for ellipticals with a resistance band or free weights.
How Often to Workout
When first starting a workout program, it can be tempting to jump in and work out for an hour (or more) a day. For most people, this simply isn’t doable, no matter their age, and they quickly become burnt out. Most people do better to fit in five 30-minute workouts or two 75-minute workouts per week to get in the recommended two-and-a-half hours of workout time they need per week.
Ready to start your elliptical cross-training workout program? Fitscope offers online studio classes for ellipticals, cycling, strength training, HIIT workouts, Tai-Chi, rowing machines, air bikes and treadmills to allow seniors to vary their workouts while obtaining maximum benefits. You’ll get the body of your dreams quicker than ever while being guided by fitness professionals who know how to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter what age you are. Click here to learn more and receive a free one-week trial.