When people talk about working out, many assume you are discussing an activity for people in their prime, who want to push their body and achieve elite levels of fitness.
Now, while that is often the case, exercise and physical activity is something that is beneficial for people of all ages and abilities.
One group that it is particularly important to try and keep active is seniors and the elderly. However, this is often the very same group that avoids exercising the most.
Whether because they fear getting injured, don’t have the energy, or simply aren’t interested, many seniors fail to exercise at all.
However, this can be incredibly detrimental, and any seniors wanting to age gracefully should be exercising regularly, as it can actually decrease the likelihood of getting injured or sick.
With that in mind, I want to show you the best cardio workouts for seniors, to keep you feeling, fit, young, and healthy.
I will explain the benefits of exercising at an older age and show you how to do so safely. That way, you will be able to make the most of your golden years.
Why Is It Important For Seniors To Take Part In Regular Cardiovascular Activity?
It is important for seniors to take part in regular cardiovascular activity as it helps to keep their body operating as efficiently as possible.
As we age, certain parts of our bodies begin to deteriorate, some faster than others, and staying physically active helps to prevent this for as long as possible.
Those who don’t engage in regular physical activity and live what is known as a sedentary lifestyle open themselves up to a number of health risks and complications.
These issues will negatively affect people of any age, although are much more problematic and prominent in seniors.
Studies show that there is an abundance of health issues directly linked to living a sedentary lifestyle, especially in older people.
The most common physical issue sedentary people experience is a reduction in muscle mass and bone density.
This can lead to health concerns like weak, brittle bones and poor physical strength, both of which greatly increase the frequency and severity of injuries you may sustain.
Less physical strength and more frequent injuries will also lead to further reductions in mobility.
This will often cause the person to fall over more, creating a vicious cycle and a downward spiral.
Another common complication of a sedentary lifestyle is a reduction in the health and functions of your internal organs and central nervous system.
Conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure all occur much more frequently in people who are sedentary, which greatly increases they risk of them becoming severely ill or dying at a young age if they don’t remedy the problem.
Beyond the physical benefits of staying active, it can also be incredibly beneficial for your mental health and state of mind as well.
Physical activity offers benefits like regulating metabolism, improving quality of sleep, and boosting the release of hormones and chemicals like endorphins into our system.
These factors play a huge role in determining a person’s mood and energy levels, while also helping to prevent depression.
Are There Any Risks For Seniors When Performing A Cardio Workout?
The risks for seniors when performing a cardio workout will vary, depending on the chosen activity you are performing at any given time.
Any activity where there is a greater chance of tripping, falling, or having equipment malfunction on you increases the risk of you getting injured.
This means that activities like simply walking or those that allow apparatus to provide support are the safest options for people who are worried or know they are unstable on their feet.
You then also have the sort of risks that people of any age have to deal with, such as strong currents while swimming or being knocked into while cycling.
Finally, to reduce the risk as much as possible, it is important not to push your body too hard.
While you need to exert yourself to some extent to see the real benefits of exercise, you don’t want to push so hard that you end up falling, injure yourself, or even run into issues like a heart attack.
Where possible, seniors should also endeavour to exercise somewhere that there are other people around, so that they can quickly get assistance if an issue does arise.
If this isn’t possible, at the very least keep a phone close at hand, so that you can call for help in the event of an emergency.
Cardio Guidelines For Seniors
On average, seniors should aim to exercise around 3 to 4 times per week.
This will ensure the workouts are frequent enough to stop the systems of the body from shutting down or deteriorating, but not too frequent that you are going to overly stress your system or push your body too far.
A great option is to perform a workout every other day.
This creates a pattern of consistent exercise with ample rest, to ensure you receive all of the benefits, with none of the drawbacks. That said, if you are only just starting to exercise, you may want to begin with less and work your way up.
The workouts should also be kept in the 20 to 30 minute range. This is long enough to get your heart rate up, get the blood flowing, and boost your metabolism, without pushing your body too hard.
This means, in total, you want to be aiming for between 90 minutes and 2 hours of exercise per week.
As far as intensity, you want to use a combination of both moderate and vigorous workouts if you can.
If you aim for somewhere around a 5 to 6 out of 10 on the perceived exertion scale, you will push your body and achieve significant improvements, without risking going too far.
However, if you are only just starting to exercise, have a very poor level of fitness, or suffer from any health conditions, it may be safer to simply perform low intensity sessions.
While they won’t have such notable effects on your fitness, they will still be incredibly beneficial for your overall health.
What Are The Best Types Of Cardiovascular Activities For Seniors?
A lot of people are scared off by the term “workout”, especially if they have never done any sort of organised or regimented exercise before.
However, workout isn’t a word you should be afraid of, as it can mean a great number of different things.
While a workout can consist of challenging exercises and complicated routines, it can just as easily revolve solely around a simple activity you can comfortably incorporate into your daily life.
We will now look at some of the best types of cardiovascular activities for seniors, to demonstrate how easy it can be to start working out, even if you have reached your golden years without ever having done so before.
Walking is perhaps the best option for a workout for seniors, as there are simply so many options available to you.
You can go out for a walk with friends or on your own, to combine the benefits of exercise with fresh air and sunshine.
You then also have the option of purchasing a treadmill, to allow you to stay consistent with your exercise, even on days when the weather is bad, or you simply don’t feel like leaving the house.
If you want to go this route, there are a number of great treadmills for seniors available.
However you choose to go walking, you will be able to easily switch between a gentle stroll and a brisk walk, depending on how hard you push yourself.
Meanwhile, both options are reasonably low impact, which is extremely important for seniors and those with old or brittle bones.
The Best Treadmill For Seniors – Exerpeutic TF2000
The Exerpeutic TF2000 is a perfect choice as the best treadmill for seniors and the needs of their body, as it is not only designed to improve fitness but also to enhance recovery as well.
With a top speed of 5 miles per hour and a maximum horsepower of just 1.5 HP, there is very little risk of a senior accidentally setting the treadmill too fast and hurting themselves.
Similarly, full length, coated handrails and handles offer an incredible amount of grip and support, to ensure there is very little chance of a senior experiencing a slip or fall that could injure them.
The cushioned deck of the Exerpeutic TF2000 ensures there is minimal impact, meaning it won’t put too much strain on an aging body, and makes it well suited for anyone with weak, brittle, or low density bones and joints.
It also boasts a built-in heart rate monitor, allowing you to easily see exactly how hard you are pushing your body, so you can make sure not to train too hard and put yourself at risk.
The aluminium design of the Exerpeutic TF2000 is incredibly sturdy and is capable of supporting users up to the weight of 300 pounds.
It is also extremely lightweight, so can be moved around without much trouble, although seniors may still want to seek assistance before doing so.
The one main drawback of the Exerpeutic TF2000 is that it comes at a recommended retail price of $799, which will be a little too steep for many people.
However, for those who are willing to spend a little more to get the best experience possible, then the Exerpeutic TF2000 is the ideal choice.
- Long, high grip handrails make the likelihood of any slips or falls extremely minimal
- Cushioned deck removes any stress from bones and joints and helps to keep them healthy
- Reasonably lightweight and can be moved around with minimal effort
- Suitable for use by people weighing up to 300 pounds
- A built in heart rate monitor lets you see how you are doing, so you don’t train too hard
- Much more expensive than a number of other options on the market
- The relatively low top speed may be insufficient for extremely fit or experienced users
Cycling is another great option for seniors, as you can again perform the activity outdoors, to make the most of the fresh air and sunshine while you work out.
It also causes virtually no impact, so won’t have a negative impact on your bones.
However, the one downside to road cycling is that it does pose slightly more of a risk than walking. Slips and falls are much more likely when on a bike, while the increased speed and having a piece of equipment between your legs also means injuries are usually more severe if a fall does occur.
This makes stationary exercise bikes another great option. While you won’t receive the additional benefits gained from being outdoors, they can provide the same fitness benefits as traditional cycling, from the safety and comfort of your own home.
The Best Exercise Bike For Seniors – Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike
The Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike features a relaxed seating position and an ergonomically designed, contoured and padded seat.
This is one of the primary reasons that it is the best exercise bike for seniors, as it provides an experience that is both comfortable and poses very little risk.
With adjustable pedals, 25 levels of resistance, and 29 preloaded workout programs, it offers plenty of variety, to ensure users of all abilities can receive a suitably challenging workout.
It can even be connected to external devices, to offer even more options and diversity.
The large screen is easy to read, which is ideal for senior users, while the controls offer a mix of both large buttons and touch screen features.
There is even the ability to set the screen to display cycling routes from around the world, to ensure your sessions are always fresh and entertaining.
The built in heart rate monitor allows you to gauge how hard you are working at all times, while holders to secure everything from your water bottle to electronic devices make it the height of convenience.
There are even USB charging points to help you stay connected during your session.
At 64 (L) x 27.7 (W) x 50 (H) inches, the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike is by no means a small piece of equipment.
That said, it is still reasonably sized when compared to other recumbent bikes and doesn’t take up too much space.
The carbon steel frame is a little heavy at 86.6 lbs, so it may be hard for a senior to move the bike by themselves.
However, it is also incredibly durable and should support users of almost any weight.
With a recommended retail price of $461.99, the Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike is a mid-range option which may seem a little steep to those shopping on a budget, but still provides great value and compares favourably to many of its closest competitors.
- Recumbent position and ergonomically designed seat create maximum comfort with minimal risk of any slips or falls
- Offers a great range of different workout programs and levels of resistance
- High level of connectivity and boasts modern features to ensure your workouts are always fresh and enjoyable
- Heart rate monitor ensures you can always keep track of how hard you are working
- A little on the expensive side
- Quite large and heavy, so will need a fair bit of room to use and help to move
Rowing is a fabulous cardio workout for seniors, as it allows you to work your entire body in every session.
It is also among the most challenging cardiovascular workouts, so is a great option for those with higher levels of physical fitness.
Similarly, with rowing causing no impact, it makes it a good choice for people with brittle bones.
However, as traditional rowing is both challenging and poses a substantial risk, it isn’t the sort of activity many people will want to take up in later life.
This means an indoor rower will be the way to go for most people. While you won’t get to enjoy the health benefits of being outside, you will be able to complete incredibly intense workouts that have virtually no impact or risk associated with them.
The Best Rower For Seniors – Concept2 Model D
The concept2 Model D is unquestionably one of, if not the, top rowers in the world, and is commonly seen in gyms in every country on Earth.
It is considered by many, myself included, to be the best rower for seniors and competitive athletes alike.
It uses a traditional fly wheel and damper system to create air resistance for you to train against, yet it isn’t as loud as many similar types of rowers.
This allows the resistance to fluctuate during a workout, meaning the rower adapts to your current energy levels throughout your session.
It features an ergonomically designed and highly cushioned seat and handle, adjustable foot plates, and a smooth, natural rowing motion.
This all combines to create an incredibly comfortable and stable rowing experience, which is ideal for seniors with brittle bones or who are worried about falls.
At 96 inches in length, 24 inches in width, and with a seat height of 14 inches, the Concept2 Model D only requires a small amount of space to be safely used.
Its stylish design also means it can proudly be displayed in your home, without being an eye sore.
That said, weighing just 57 lbs, able to be easily split into two parts, and boasting wheels on the front, seniors will have no issues moving or storing the product by themselves either.
The entire frame even comes with a 5 year warranty, to ensure you have confidence in your purchase.
Despite being so lightweight, the frame is also incredibly durable, and the weight capacity of 500lbs should make it safe to use for almost everybody.
That said, the recommended retail price of $1,186.49 will admittedly be a little steep for many.
The operating system of the Concept2 Model D is incredibly simple to use, and the rower can be started simply by getting on and rowing.
Then, for those seeking more variety, it also provides options like predetermined workouts, memory for previous sessions, and even some games.
A built in heart rate monitor allows you to keep track of how hard you are working during your sessions, while its connectivity features allow it to be linked wirelessly to external heart rate monitors, as well as other devices.
- Low impact workout that engages all major muscle groups; work legs, core and arms with a smooth, high calorie-burning motion
- Track your progress with real-time reliable data; the Performance Monitor 5 (included) self-calibrates for comparable results; connect wirelessly to heart rate belts and apps (not included)
- Features an ergonomic design to maximise comfort and minimise risk
- Provides a smooth, natural rowing motion
- Can be quickly and easily taken apart and moved for storage
- Simple to use but boasts plenty of features for more experienced users
- Boasts an incredibly high weight capacity
- Utilises air resistance that adapts to your own rowing style and intensity
- Incredibly expensive
- Not the most compact rower on the market
Like rowing, elliptical trainers are a great cardio workout for those who want to work their whole body at the same time.
As they can be performed in a much more relaxed manner than rowing, they are also perhaps the best choice for less fit people or those not wanting to push themselves as hard.
Unfortunately, there is no way to perform cross training outdoors. This means you will have to rely on purchasing an elliptical trainer if you choose to select this type of workout.
However, as perhaps the single best option for the majority of seniors, that isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. There is also a fabulous range of elliptical trainers for seniors available as well.
The Best Elliptical Trainer For Seniors – Teeter Freestep
The Teeter Freestep is an elliptical trainer that is designed to provide a cross training experience from a seated position, making it the best elliptical trainer for seniors and anyone concerned about slipping or falling while exercising.
The Teeter Freestep is currently available in two different models, the Freestep LT1, priced at $849.99, and the Freestep LT3, priced at $999.99.
Both models offer a low impact workout for your entire body, while simultaneously reducing pressure and stress on your joints.
Both Freestep models are easy to adjust and have a weight capacity of 300 pounds (136 kilos) and a maximum user height of 6 foot 6 inches (198 centimetres), making them suitable for use by the vast majority of people.
An incredible range of resistance settings allow people of all abilities to work to the required levels, and all settings provide a smooth and quiet ride.
There is also a large LCD screen to conveniently track your progress during a workout, while altering the settings is as easy as the press of a button.
While both Teeter Freestep models are admittedly quite expensive, 12 month, zero interest financing plans are available to help those on a budget afford them.
Meanwhile, the company also includes free shipping with all purchases and regularly holds flash sales too.
The extended returns policies and warranties running for up to two years also provide complete peace of mind in case you should run into any issues or change your mind.
ZERO-IMPACT EXERCISE: Ideal for all fitness levels. The naturally-reclined seated position eliminates stress on the joints and back and reduces body fatigue while delivering a total body, fat-burning cardio workout. A great exercise option for those with Arthritis, Parkinson's or MS.
- Offers a risk free, full body workout from a seated position
- The weight and height capacity should be suitable for the vast majority of users
- LCD screen and controls are large and easy to use, providing maximum convenience
- Easy to adjust both the settings and positioning
- Extended warranty and returns policy provide complete peace of mind
- Zero interest financing plans make it attainable even for those on a budget
- Extremely large and heavy
- Incredibly expensive
- No information available on the exact number of resistance settings
Swimming is a fabulous cardio workout for seniors, as it works your entire body and can be done as calmly or intensely as you desire.
It can also be a great social activity, which can be performed with friends to keep your mind as active as your body.
Swimming in a pool will be the preferred option for most seniors, as the calm water and presence of lifeguards makes the experience much safer.
The pleasant temperature most swimming pools are kept at is also great for relaxing muscles and soothing any aches and pains you may have.
Those that want to push themselves a little harder can enjoy swimming outside in a lake or the sea, to combine physical exercise with the benefits of sunshine and fresh air.
However, it is important to realise that this option does come with significantly greater risk attached to it.
Are There Any Other Physical Activities Seniors Can Perform Instead Of Cardio?
While dedicated cardio workouts and exercises are a great way to reduce the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, they aren’t the only options that you have.
Any physical activity you take part in throughout the day has the potential to improve your health and quality of life as well.
Gardening is one such option that is a fabulous hobby for seniors to take up.
Not only will walking around the garden, pulling up weeds, moving lawns, and moving tools and plants keep your entire body moving, but it will also get you out in the fresh air and sunshine.
As sunlight is abundant in vitamin d, which is responsible for building and maintaining healthy bones and skin, this makes it an extremely beneficial activity for seniors.
This makes any outdoor physical activities, from playing shuffleboard or bowls to taking the dog for a walk, simple yet effective options to boost your health.
Even housework can have a positive effect on your health and fitness. As mundane as it may seem, it will keep you active and moving around the house.
This will keep your circulation running smoothly and stop you from spending too much time sitting, which is when the withering effects of old age can start to take hold.
Those with greater levels of fitness could even choose to play a little sport.
A relaxed game of tennis with a friend or a round of golf will provide ample physical stimulation, social interaction, and plenty of time outside, which will elevate your mind, body, and overall health and fitness.
Should Seniors Perform Weight Training As Well As Cardio?
While many seniors may be put off of resistance training for fear of hurting themselves, lifting weights is actually an incredibly beneficial activity for them.
Lifting weights not only helps to build muscle but can also increase the strength and density of bones and connective tissues as well.
This makes it a great option for minimising or even reversing some of the complications associated with old age, such as osteoporosis.
Lifting weights can even help to improve your cardio as well. While not primarily known for this function, lifting weights will get your heart working, much like any other form of strenuous physical activity.
This makes lifting weights an incredibly beneficial and well-rounded activity for seniors.
However, it is extremely important that seniors are sensible when it comes to how heavy the weights they lift are and which exercises they perform with them.
In order to minimise the risk of injury while still taking advantage of all of the benefits offered by lifting weights, be sure to select weights that don’t put your body under too much stress and try to choose exercises where there is little chance that you slip, fall, or drop a weight on yourself.
Cardio workouts and physical activity are essential for people who want to age gracefully and reduce the deterioration of your body that occurs as you get older.
You’ll hopefully now have a much better idea of not only what you can do to keep active, but also how you can stay safe while doing so.
That means all you have left to do is to choose your preferred way to exercise, purchase any equipment that may be required, and start seeing the effects that physical activity can have on your overall levels of health, fitness, and mental stability, no matter how old you may be.