As we age, keeping fit and in shape becomes increasingly difficult.
From lower levels of energy to an increased risk of sustaining an injury, exercise often becomes less and less appealing the older we get.
Even those who enjoy exercising can often become more wary and end up falling off track.
However, there are a number of reasons why it is important to fight off any negative thoughts and continue to exercise as you press on into your senior years.
From the health benefits it offers to simply keeping you busy, exercise is one of the best ways to stave off the negative effects of old age.
As far as fitness solutions for seniors go, an elliptical machine is one of the very best choices available.
With an ability to keep you safe while effectively working your entire body, it will help you make the most of the benefits, with as little risk as possible.
The question is, which elliptical machine should you use when you decide to take the plunge?
With so many options available, are they all equally suitable for senior citizens? Is there an option that is the best elliptical machine for seniors?
Those are all incredibly important questions that you need to get an answer to, which is exactly what we are going to do today.
This will give you all the information you require, before you choose which elliptical machine to buy.
Can Seniors Use An Elliptical Machine?
Whether or not seniors can use an elliptical machine will vary on a case to case basis, dependant on both the person and the type of elliptical machine they have access to.
While there is no reason an average senior in good or reasonable health can’t use an elliptical machine, the design of the machine, as well as the current fitness of the individual, will both play a role in how safe it is for them.
Seniors that have an existing medical condition they are aware of or who experience pain when performing certain physical activities and movements should consult a doctor before they begin using an elliptical machine.
This will allow them to get advice on if they can use an elliptical machine and, if so, how to go about doing so to ensure it isn’t going to make the problem worse.
Seniors with physical limitations in terms of certain movements should also make sure they are able to safely complete the action required to use an elliptical machine before they begin to push themselves too hard.
Those that are capable of using an elliptical machine could then even look at certain options which feature a design which makes the process of using the equipment safer.
It is important to remember, however, that there are always risks when using a piece of fitness equipment, no matter how well it is designed or built. This goes for not only elliptical machines but exercise equipment as a whole.
This is particularly true of seniors, who are at greater risk of injury whenever they take part in a physical activity.
That said, while an elliptical machine isn’t 100% safe, it is still one of the safest options available and is a good choice for seniors looking to stay fit and keep in shape.
What To Consider When Buying An Elliptical Machine For Seniors
There are a number of things to take into consideration when buying an elliptical machine, no matter how old you are.
That said, while many of these considerations will be the same for seniors as they are for anyone else, the decision carries greater weight the older the user.
For starters, the type of elliptical machine you choose makes a massive difference.
There are options such as upright, under desk, foldable, and recumbent on the market, some of which may be more suitable for a senior than others.
When trying to decide which style of elliptical machine to use, you always need to consider the individual’s capabilities and any limitations they may face.
This is important to make sure they can safely use the machine they choose as it is intended.
The resistance settings available on the machine are another important factor to take into consideration.
The majority of these machines have at least eight levels of resistance and it is essential you select one that an elderly individual will find easy to adjust.
Those who consider themselves above average in terms of fitness levels will also want to make sure the model they choose has a resistance that is going to be able to push them.
After all, just because you are older doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be up for a physical challenge, as everyone is different.
Size is also an important issue to consider, both in terms of how big the machine is, as well as the size of user it is designed to support.
If the individual is taller than what is considered a normal height for a person, then consider a machine with a stride length that is over 20 inches.
Those who know they are on the heavier side should also be sure to check the maximum capacity of the model they choose.
If you are limited on space, you will then also want to look at under desk or foldable elliptical machines, as opposed to upright or recumbent models.
As a final point, make sure to factor in the price when making your decision.
Elliptical machines generally come in price ranges from $150 to over $800.
The person should consider what they can afford, as this allows them to filter through elliptical machines more efficiently.
Elliptical Machine Benefits For Seniors
The primary benefit a senior can hope to achieve from using an elliptical machine is the same as anyone else, that being its ability to improve your cardiovascular health and endurance.
The continuous nature of the movement is great for helping to increase heart rate and enhance blood circulation.
As many seniors become more sedentary in later life, this is important to keep their bodies functioning correctly, and will greatly enhance their health and wellbeing.
In addition to cardiovascular improvements, the use of an elliptical machine can also provide an increase in both upper and lower body strength.
While not directly known for this, the action of an elliptical machine requires continuous use of multiple limbs, keeping muscles in constant use and stopping them from atrophying.
This is particularly important as you age, as a stronger set of muscles, joints, and tendons will help to reduce the risk of injury.
It will also help to improve balance and make the person less likely to fall over, which is one of the major risk factors faced by older people.
Elliptical machines can even help a senior recover from a previous injury.
It is a less strenuous activity when compared to other exercise equipment, but still helps to promote blood circulation, which will encourage quicker healing and recovery.
While there are a few different options that pose similar benefits to an elliptical machine, they are perhaps the best choice for seniors as they cause little to no impact while you are using them.
This means you won’t be putting your bones or joints under any undue stress, which is an important thing to consider as your bones begin to weaken with age.
Understanding The Different Types Of Elliptical Machine
Elliptical machines aren’t all created equal, no matter how similar of a job they perform.
Each type will offer its own perks and benefits, making it more suitable for some and less so for others.
Before you decide on which elliptical machine to buy, it is important to understand all of your options.
This is especially true for seniors, as they will often have much more specific requirements than younger users.
Upright Elliptical Machine
An upright elliptical machine is the traditional option and is what is featured in the majority of gyms.
It boasts two large footplates connected to a motor, as well as two moving handholds.
This requires you to get your entire body in sync, to perform a movement that resembles cross country skiing, hence why they are also known as cross-trainers.
Foldable Elliptical Machine
A foldable elliptical machine will have a similar style to an upright version, only it can be folded away after use.
As a result, they are usually a lot less heavy, bulky, or expensive.
However, they regularly won’t feature a motor, relying solely on momentum to achieve a workout.
This means there is usually a limit to how hard you can push yourself or improve strength with this type of machine.
Recumbent Elliptical Machine
A recumbent elliptical machine acts somewhat as a combination between a traditional elliptical machine and an exercise bike.
You will sit in a reclined position and use pedals in the same way you would on a bike.
However, it also has the sort of handholds found on ellipticals, to allow you to work your entire body.
Under Desk Elliptical Machine
An under desk elliptical machine will usually just be the pedals and lower motor of a traditional option.
They are a great choice for anyone looking to save space or money, however, don’t offer the full body workout you will get from a full size model.
Best Under Desk Elliptical Machines For Seniors
An under desk elliptical machine is a great choice for a senior, as they can be used from a seated position, limiting the potential for any falls while working out.
In addition, they are also light and compact, making them much easier to move around without any assistance.
ANCHEER Under Desk Elliptical Machine
The ANCHEER Under Desk Elliptical machine boasts a compact structure of 18 x 14 x 10 inches (44.5 x 35.5 x 25.5 centimetres).
This ensures it will conveniently fit under most desks and be easy to store away when not in use.
Its two in one design allows the user to choose between either automatic or manual functions.
The automatic setting gradually increases the resistance to ensure a sufficiently challenging workout, while the manual option gives you complete control for the duration of your session.
It boasts a choice of 5 different resistance levels, which can easily be controlled on the large LCD monitor or the easy to use remote.
This makes adjusting the difficulty quick and simple throughout your workout.
The quiet motor featured in the ANCHEER Under Desk Elliptical Machine ensures it won’t be a bother to those around the user.
Meanwhile, the large, anti-slip pedals will help prevent falls and ensure people of almost all foot sizes can use the product.
A choice of three available designs ensures everyone will find an option to suit their own taste, while the 12-month warranty will be there to support you if anything goes wrong with your product.
With a recommended retail price of $235, it isn’t a cheap option, yet is still more affordable than other types of elliptical machine on the market.
Pedal Bike Exerciser, Electric Under Desk Elliptical Machine Trainer with Built in Display Monitor Quiet & Compact Exercise Equipment for Home Office Gym
- Compact and easy to store
- Non-slip pedals
- Easy to adjust
- 12 month warranty
- Choice of designs
- Minimal resistance settings
- Quite expensive
- Only works the lower body
Cubii JR1 Seated Under Desk
The Cubii JR1 Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine is an affordable alternative to traditional elliptical machines, while still being a highly functional piece of equipment.
It features 8 different resistance levels, which can be adjusted using a knob on the bottom of the hub, providing a greater level of control in terms of the intensity of the exercise.
Meanwhile, the built-in LCD display ensures you know exactly how your workout is going at all times.
Its small, compact design boasts dimensions of 23 x 17.5 x 10 inches (58.5 x 44.5 x 25.5 centimetres), making it easy to both use while seated at a desk and store away after use.
Designed to make less noise, it is great for use in any environment, no matter who else is around.
Cubii also offer online facilities such as Cubii Studio+ and Cubii Communitii to all purchasers, allowing you to network with other users to motivate each other, as well as attend online workouts instructed by expert trainers.
Available in two colour options, including aqua and black, it provides choice so you can match it to your own personal taste.
The recommended retail price of $249 is admittedly a little higher than similar alternatives, although still makes it much more affordable than a full size version.
For Home Workout, Mini Elliptical, Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser, Whisper Quiet, Under Desk Pedal Exerciser w/Adjustable Resistance & LCD Display
- Online access to fitness professionals and other users
- 8 levels of resistance
- Easy to adjust
- LCD screen keeps track of how you are doing
- Compact design
- More expensive than similar alternatives
- Only works the lower body
Best Recumbent Elliptical Machine For Seniors
Much like the under desk variety, a recumbent elliptical machine is a great option for seniors as the seated position minimises the chances of them hurting themselves.
While it is considerably bulkier and heavier, meaning most seniors will need assistance moving it, it also comes with the ability to work your upper body, providing a more complete workout.
The Teeter Freestep was specially designed to provide a crossfit experience from a seated position.
The main idea behind the device is to give you access to a low impact exercise that reduces pressure and stress on your joints, while still training your entire body. This means it is an ideal option for older adults and seniors.
Both machines are easily adjustable and boast a weight capacity of 300 pounds (136 kilos), making them suitable for almost all users up to 6 feet 6 inches (198 centimetres) tall. They offer a great range of different resistance settings, which all provide a smooth and quiet ride.
The large LCD screen allows you to conveniently keep track of your progress during a session and alter the settings at the press of a button.
The Teeter Freestep is currently available in two different models, the FreeStep LT1 and LT3, priced at $849.99 and $999.99 respectively.
12 month financing plans with zero interest are offered to help people on a budget afford the machines, while the company regularly holds flash sales as well.
The company offers free shipping with the purchase of these machines, as well as extended returns, with warranties running up to two years, in case you run into any issues or change your mind.
Using dual power motion, the FreeStep distributes muscle exertion throughout the body.
- Provides a full body workout from a seated position
- Great weight and height capacity
- Large, easy to use LCD screen and controls
- Easy to adjust
- Extended warranty and returns policy
- Zero interest financing plans available
- Incredibly large and heavy
- Very expensive
- No mention of the exact number of resistance settings
Best Foldable Elliptical Machine For Seniors
While being upright poses more risk for seniors than the recumbent or under desk varieties, the lack of a motor keeps you in complete control for the duration of your workout.
Additionally, the lightweight design of this style is suitable for many seniors to move on their own, meaning even those with limited space can use it without any assistance.
Brookstone Fold-A-Way Air Walker
The Brookstone Fold-A-Way Air Walker provides a combination of features seen in both air walkers and elliptical machines.
Capable of working both your upper and lower body, it functions as an all in one solution to all of your fitness needs and is the closest alternative to a traditional elliptical machine.
Despite the basic appearance of its design, the LCD monitor displays a wide range of information, such as calories burned, distance, heart rate, steps, and time.
There are two long handles with foam grips, which help the senior to get a better grip when they hold onto the walker.
Similarly, the large structure of the foot pedals provides a better grip as well. This also gives you more space, making it an ideal option for people with larger feet.
These aspects combine to make slips and falls much less likely while exercising.
Its foldable design is also incredibly lightweight, meaning most seniors will be able to move the walker around by themselves, as well as store it away after use.
This innovative elliptical exercise equipment delivers a serious cardio workout for full body toning; and it folds nearly flat for easy storage.
- Light and easy to move or store
- LCD screen displays vital details
- Provides a full body workout
- More affordable than a traditional elliptical machine
- Grip system of the handles and pedals prevents slipping, making it ideal for seniors
- Large pedals make it a good option for people with big feet
- Hard to get hold of
- Difficult to control resistance
Best Upright Elliptical Machine For Seniors
An upright elliptical machine is capable of providing a more intense workout than any of the other options, as it works the entire body against motorised resistance and keeps you on your feet for the duration of the session.
While perhaps not the best choice for any seniors with major safety concerns, it is a great option for those who really want to push themselves and won’t let their advanced age hold them back.
Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine
The Sole E35 features ergonomically designed footplates and multiple handle options, creating a comfortable experience for users of all sizes.
Its smooth, flowing motion, is also particularly important for seniors, as it limits the potential for slips or falls.
With 20 different levels of resistance and 10 pre-set workout programs, users of all abilities will find something to suit them. Similarly, with a weight capacity of 375 pounds (170 kilos), it should be suitable for use by the vast majority of people.
The backlit screen makes it easy to see exactly what you are doing and how you are progressing, while a heart rate monitoring system ensures you don’t push yourself too hard.
With dimensions of 82 x 21.5 x 67 inches (208 x 54.5 x 170 centimetres), the Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine is quite a large product that will be difficult to move but is incredibly stable and suitable for users of most sizes.
The recommended retail price of $2,410 is very steep, but for a quality elliptical machine it is by no means out of the ordinary.
With a lifetime warranty on the frame, five year warranty on moving parts, and two year warranty on labour, you will, at the very least, know you won’t be out of pocket if anything goes wrong.
Multi-Functional "D" shaped handlebars for ultimate comfort, correct positioning and convenience with built in adjustable incline and resistance buttons
- Reasonable length warranty
- Good choice of resistance levels
- Comfortable design
- Smooth motion limits the potential for slips or falls
- Backlit screen
- Very heavy
- Extremely expensive
- Screen is quite small
- User capacity is a little low
Important Safety Tips For Seniors When Using An Elliptical Machine
As seniors are at greater risk of physical injury than younger users, it is important to make sure you take precautions, so you don’t put yourself unnecessarily at risk while using your equipment.
For starters, always make sure to start out slowly.
When an elderly individual is not used to working out frequently, pushing their body too quickly or too hard can result in serious injury.
Gradually ease yourself in, starting at the lowest intensity level and completing shorter sessions.
Over time, each person can then gauge their own progress as they begin to build up strength and stamina. This can then be used to gradually increase the intensity and length of the workouts.
It is also incredibly important to listen to your body as you exercise.
If you feel that the session is getting too intense, you should stop, slow down, or lower the resistance immediately.
Additionally, if you feel any pain, don’t just try and push through. Make sure to stop and let the area recover, so you don’t end up causing a major injury.
Finally, make sure you always have a way to contact people close to hand, such as a phone, tablet, or other similar device.
The problem many seniors face when it comes to falls often isn’t damage received in the fall itself but an inability to get back up again on their own afterwards.
This can lead to muscular atrophy or other problems if they aren’t found for an extended period of time.
By ensuring you always have a way to contact people at hand, you can limit the damage caused in the unfortunate event that you do fall and require assistance.
With elliptical machines being a great way to safely help seniors continue exercising into their twilight years and reap all of the benefits that goes along with that, finding the perfect machine for you is an incredibly important decision.
While the best elliptical machine for seniors will depend somewhat on the kind of experience you are hoping to have with the machine, this list will hopefully have provided at least one option that you feel meets all of your needs.
Assuming that is the case, all that is left for you to do is go and purchase your chosen product. That way, you can get back to working out as quickly as possible and begin enjoying the improved wellbeing and quality of life you achieve as a result.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost