Exercise Equipment for Older Adults
Stop – in the name of age?
Believe it or not, some mature adults are discouraged from working out by well-meaning people using old stereotypes like these:
- “Put that thing down before you hurt yourself.”
- “No, that equipment isn’t for you golden oldies.”
- “Just walk a few minutes when you can – that’s all you should do at your age.”
If you haven’t been subjected to such nonsense, then good for you. But you probably have been told that some fitness equipment is off-limits based simply on your age — if you’re like most people over 50 who want to get or stay in shape.
We know that just isn’t true.
Focus on Function, Not Age
Cody Sipe, a professor and co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute, works to erode ageist, needlessly limiting myths that keep mature adults from living their best lives.
Cody says the focus should be on functional ability – not an individual’s age.
“Depending on each client, we trainers can use all the tools at our disposal – including strength machines, barbells, elliptical trainers, step climbers and more for clients at any age,” Cody says.
A few of the common myths:
- Older people should never lift weights. In fact, not only can most mature people lift weights, but they should lift weights. Resistance bands can help. “You can build more strength with cable machines or free weights,” Cody urges.
- That’s enough for you, Gramps. Nothing is necessarily “too hard” for everyone past a certain milestone – and working hard is necessary to achieve and maintain fitness. Walking and jogging are nice first steps, so to speak – but they are not enough, Cody says. You need to work on strength, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility to maintain healthy function.
- Exercise Is Too Risky at This Stage of Life. Being sedentary is more dangerous than moving your body with purpose, Cody says. He often urges people with, say, lower-limb discomfort or osteoarthritis to hit the ellipticals, bikes and rowing machines common in fitness facilities.
No ‘One Size Fits All’ Restrictions
As long as they’re physically capable and have proper instruction, mature people can use any of a gym’s equipment that younger people do.
Try something new and learn what you like. If you’re curious about kettlebells, for instance, we’re happy to show you how and why you might want to use them.
Some caution can be useful if it reminds us to be careful or ask for help.
Everyone is unique. By this point in life, we might have faced disease, injury, surgeries, or other experiences that can require adjustments. Speak with your doctor if you have concerns that he or she needs to address.
We’re here to help you learn what’s right for you. What you like. What’s effective for you.That doesn’t mean taking it easy all the time and restricting your curiosity along with your physical function.
Fitness should be safe and fun, not frustrating. It should open doors, not close them.