Best Exercise Equipment for Seniors – 9 Ideas For Staying Fit After 50

Older couple trying out exercise ball equipment

Almost all studies and research that involve seniors have found tremendous health benefits and improvements among subjects that work out and exercise regularly, especially those who engage in low-impact workouts that don’t put a lot of strain on the muscles.

In this article, we’ll help you find the best exercise equipment for older adults which can greatly help a 50+ year-old individual to stay in shape. Let’s dive in!

1. Ellipticals

Let’s kick off our list with one of the absolute best low-impact machines that you can find out there, which makes it an excellent choice for any older adult who wants to burn some calories and increase their general body strength without putting their bodies into heavy stress.

These machines are ideal for older people who are capable of standing for extended periods of time but don’t want to engage in workouts that can cause serious impacts on their joints.

The elliptical, also known as “cross trainer” is an exercise machine specifically designed to simulate some activities.

These include walking, running, and even going up the stairs, all without the unwanted side effects of actually doing these exercises, such as putting extra pressure on the knees when you do these exercises using actual stairs or walking down the street.

The design of the elliptical gives your feet a platform pedal to stand on along with additional levers that offer an extra upper body workout option that doesn’t exist in real life walking and stair climbing. The pedals have an adjustable level of resistance to pick your 

In addition to all that, the levers provide the user with an extra layer of security because it gives them something to balance themselves with and hold on to.

The rhythmic design of the elliptical means fewer chances for things to go wrong while providing a real chance to build muscle as well as lose weight by exercising your upper and lower body at the same time.

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While picking an elliptical choose one that offers cool-downs and warm-ups to stimulate your muscles and avoid cramps. The best options on the market include:

Niceday Elliptical

2. Treadmills

Treadmills are among the most misunderstood exercise machines for older adults and seniors. Although jogging and running have some reputation for being “bad for the knees”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t use a treadmill.

For starters, one of the biggest issues with walking, jogging, and running is the unevenness of the road. Walking on broken terrain can put a serious amount of strain on the joints, including the ankles and the knees.

Additionally, if the road isn’t completely flat, small pebbles and rocks can heavily throw an elderly person out of balance, which puts them at risk of falling and injuring themselves badly, and that’s where treadmills help.

Treadmills provide a safe and controlled running environment that is completely flat and safe. You’ll also be walking and jogging from the comfort of your home and around your loved ones, so you can stop at any point and take a rest on your favorite, most comfortable chair.

woman walking on best compact treadmill at home

Treadmills have varying degrees of shock absorption built in to cushion the “pounding” of running. Anything less than a 4mph pace is a little like walking on air. Well, I exaggerate!

In addition to controlling the speed at which you’re walking or jogging, the treadmill is also equipped with various safety measures to prevent accidents and unpleasant surprises while exercising.

Of course, to use a treadmill, you must have relatively healthy joints and use it moderately to avoid injuring yourself. And always check with your medical practitioner if unsure.

Here are some of the best senior-friendly treadmills out there:

We have a more in-depth look at treadmills for older adults.

3. Stability Balls

The best thing about this exercise equipment is that it’s quite affordable and easy to use, although it might take quite a space since you can’t fold or deflate them in most cases. 

Stability balls are an excellent way to work out your core muscles and strengthen your abdomen. In fact, there are tons of exercises out there that you can implement using one.

Of course, not all of them are ideal for seniors, but many of them are and most are good for midlife adults. Here’s a video that shows you some of the best ones!

Stability balls also come with a wide range of variability. Some of them are plain balls while others come with handles or a platform to make them easier to use. 

There are also stability trainers. Stability trainers and standard exercise balls are somewhat different. 

Yet, having the two in your home gym will give you plenty of choices and more versatility while exercising and unlocks balance training. Here are some of the best options:

4. Dumbbells

Dumbbells, especially lightweight ones, are excellent at maintaining your upper body muscles without causing strain on your body.

You can use dumbbells in a variety of ways and there are tons of great exercises for seniors out there, including this brilliant book. The BalanceFrom Neoprene Dumbbell Set is a great example of senior-friendly dumbbells.

However, if you want a versatile dumbbell set that is also suitable for a muscular person, you might want to consider the Bowflex SelectTech 552.

Kettlebells with adjustable weight options, such as the Bowflex Select 840, can also be a great alternative if you’re into weight training. Find out more on our look at kettlebells for older adults.

5. Exercise Bikes

Stationary exercise bikes are among the best alternatives to treadmills out there when it comes to seniors with knee problems.

Recumbent bikes come with a soft, comfortable chair that is also ideal for seniors that can’t stand for a long time. 

middle age couple exercising on the best exercise bike for seniors

You can always customize your speed and resistance level, although it’s usually recommended to avoid high resistance if you have knee problems.

Here are some of the best exercise bike options out there:

For more on bikes, we have delved into them in this guide on the best bikes for older adults.

6. Yoga Mats 

Yoga is another excellent form of low-impact exercise for seniors. The best part about yoga is that it’s great for the mind as well as the body.

Additionally, there are tons of yoga poses that help in improving circulation and alleviate breathing problems. 

Yoga mats are quite affordable and give you a wide range of possibilities from stretching to strengthening your body.  

The best thing here is that just about any yoga mat, such as the GYMENIST yoga mat will do the trick! I like a thick one.

7. Resistance Bands

Flexibility is extremely essential as we get older and just about any individual who wants strong joints, and that’s where resistance bands come in handy!

Resistance bands are among the best options out there to improve stability and increase the joints’ recovery rate.

Moreover, resistance bands are very versatile and can be also used to strengthen both your upper and lower body in addition to cardio. This makes the robust and portable bands must-have exercise equipment for everyone, including midlifers.

Our favorite resistance bands for older folks on the market are Vitality 4 Life Resistance Bands and Healthy Seniors Chair Exercise Resistance Bands. We like that these come with guides and exercise programs to use them properly.

8. Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are among the best exercise machines for anyone who wants to build muscles and strengthen their upper body and core.

These machines are also ideal for seniors who can’t stand up for extended periods of time and give you an ample range of resistance optimization, which makes them great for all the family. Some options we’ve favorably researched include:

For more on rowing as we age and some rowing machine reviews.

9. Stair Machine

While going down the stairs can be bad for your knees, climbing the stairs can be an excellent workout, especially if you have healthy knees with no degenerative or kneecap problems.

Despite being an excellent workout machine for losing weight and strengthening your lower body, stair machines can be quite pricey, such as StairMaster StepMill 3

Or why not just get a step platform and try out the exercises in the video below. You can even make your own.

Or for something a bit more demanding without the bulk and expense of the full blown stepper, Sunny Health do a mini stepper with handles for a bit of safety.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! A brief guide with 9 of the best exercise equipment for seniors that will help anyone, but especially older adults, stay fit after 50.

If you liked this article, please let us know what you think in the comments below and share this guide with your friends to spread the word!

Brian Sweet

Brian Sweet