When it comes to exercise, it is almost an adage – “I am too old for this”. If you have heard these words from a senior person, it’s time to set the record straight. What we believe to be signs of ageing is many a time simply caused by a lack of physical activity in old age.
The WHO recommends 150 minutes of mild physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity twice a week for a healthy life for everyone – that includes adults of all ages including seniors.
In this article, we discuss one of the most beneficial exercise machines for the human body – the treadmill.
Is a treadmill good for the elderly?
- Helps improve bone strength
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Increases muscle strength and improves flexibility
- Burns calories – reduces fat, helps keep weight in check
- Treadmills avoid you going out in pollution and dust
- Many treadmills have handrails for support if your loved one has balance related issues
- Treadmills also have bumper cushioning which reduces stress on joints, instead of having to walk on asphalt or concrete roads
- Most treadmills come with a safety key that prevents over-exerting oneself.
- Better from a safety perspective if you like running at night
- Treadmills can record your data and help you analyze how you are doing on your exercise regimen
Manual or electric treadmills for seniors?
The first and biggest question when considering to buy a treadmill for seniors is whether to go manual or electric. Each option has its pros and cons.
Manual treadmills have a few advantages that make them good for seniors. These are simpler, risk-free machines, that will move only at your command (unlike electric ones that always have a risk of you flying off them!). You can control the speed of the treadmill with your feet, and it won’t run until you run on it. Of course, manual treadmills are a lot less expensive, which is always good to have
However, on the downside, manual treadmills must operate on an incline, which means it takes significantly more effort to operate them. However, perhaps the most important downside of manual treadmills is that they are rough on the joints, and therefore not very well suited for the needs of those who are arthritic.
Electric treadmills also have several advantages for the elderly. They are a lot more versatile, programmable and you can create a lot of custom exercise routines based on your needs, ability, and goals.
They can store a lot of your exercise data, like your heart activity, count of steps, exercise time, calories burnt, etc. And last but not the least, they are a lot softer on your joints.
However, they are usually a lot more expensive, heavier and for some people who are not very comfortable with technology, they can be very confusing as well.
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What to look for in a treadmill for the elderly?
Proper Cushioning: Cushioning is a suspension system that absorbs the shock of your foot walking on the treadmill, making the walk a lot more enjoyable and reducing the pain in your loved one’s joints.
Safety: Having a safe and secure treadmill is most important. You must feel comfortable enough about the risk of accidents before using treadmills on a regular basis. The handrails must be solid and weight-bearing. An emergency stop button or key is also important to have so that in case the user is slipping off the treadmill, the key can automatically pull out from their hand stopping the device immediately.
Weight-bearing capacity: This is another important factor to consider. If your loved one is on the heavier side, make sure that you check what the weight limit is on the machine that you intend to buy.
Belt Size: For seniors, the belts do not need to be very long (because the stride length isn’t that long) but it does need to be wide. Try to make sure that the belt is at least 20-inch wide.
Easy to use Display: Make sure to check out whether the display is too small or confusing for a senior person.
Other factors: Some other factors that are important for anyone using a treadmill are cost-effectiveness, how much space does it take up, how much noise does the machine make,s and other high-end upgrades such as inbuilt TV, Bluetooth, cooling fans, speakers etc.
Our next section covers our choice for the best treadmills for seniors
SereneLife Smart Electric Folding Treadmill
The SereneLife Smart Treadmill is a hassle-free motorized treadmill with a built-in incline feature. It is compact and has a foldable design which makes it portable.
The treadmill is connected to the “FitShow” app (available on android and iPhone) which can help track several exercise parameters such as run time, distance, speed, calories burnt, and pulse rate. The app is connected with the treadmill using Bluetooth and can be synced as per convenience.
It has a large LCD display which can also track all the above features. It also has 12 preset exercise modes such as weight loss, cardio fitness and health stamina building.
The belt is sized comfortably wide at 51 X 24 X 49 inches. The treadmill also features a handheld safety key, a handrail and a built-in book/magazine cum cup holder tray.
The treadmill has a maximum weight capacity of 265 pounds and has an adjustable speed from 0.6 to 6 miles per hour. It also has a 3-level manually adjustable incline feature.
- Compact, easy to set up, portable and foldable design
- Large LCD display for seniors. Tracks several parameters. Also connected via the app.
- Safety features like handrail and cut-off key
- 12 preset exercise modes
- 3 level manually adjustable incline feature
- This treadmill is not meant for heavy exercise, but more for light to moderate jogs
- Some users have complained that the belt is off towards one side.
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XTERRA Fitness TR150
The XTERRA Fitness TR150 features a large (16X50 inch) running space, ideal for seniors. It also has a large, easy to read LCD display to track your fitness parameters such as speed, incline, times, distance, calories and pulse rate.
A flexible speed range of 0.5 – 10 Miles per hour provides options to users of all varieties – beginners, novices, medium and experts.
The treadmill is easy to fold and unfold and has a compact and durable design. It also features 12 preset programs to customize your exercise regimen as per your need.
The treadmill has 3 manual incline settings and plastic side rails. It also features a safety cord that is affixed to your clothes for safety.
It has hand-grip sensors which can track your pulse when walking/jogging. It features an accessory holding tray for your music players and phones, as well as a reading rack to hold books or documents. It has a maximum weight specification of 108 pounds.
Here we have a product video featuring XTERRA Fitness TR150.
- Large-sized running belt and plus-sized LCD display, perfect for seniors
- Safety rails, safety cord and manual incline setting.
- 0.5mph to 10 mph speeds, 12 preset exercises – covers all kind of user
- Easy to put together, compact to fold
- Cushioned deck to support weak joints
- Makes a lot of noise
- Prone to damage during shipping
- Large in size
- Does not have an associated app for tracking and sharing data
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This treadmill is specifically designed keeping in mind seniors and people in recovery. It has a large belt size (50 x 16 inch) and a weight capacity of 300 pounds.
It has 49-inch hand rails with a foam padding for full walking assistance. Its speed starts at 0.2 miles per hour (adjusting further in increments of 0.1mph), up to 5 miles per hour.
It has 10 shock-absorbing cushions for reducing the impact on joints while walking. It also features a large, backlit LCD display which showcases parameters such as elapsed time, distance, calories, speed and heartbeat.
- Safety features galore. Full-length arm rails, cushioned deck, low deck for easily stepping up
- Large backlit LCD display to read easily
- Maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds
- Speeds highly adjustable from 0.2 – 5 mph with 0.1mph increments
- The belt does not stay centred
- Prone to shipping errors
Goplus Electric Recovery Treadmill
The Goplus Electric recovery treadmill is another great choice for seniors. It has features that are specifically beneficial for seniors such as long, full-length arm rails, a safety key to prevent accidents, foot padding along the floor to achieve damping and easy to read large LED screen.
The treadmill is made out of high-quality steel and is very durable. The arm rails are covered with foam covering, for extra comfort. The device supports two modes: manual and automatic. It has speeds moving from 0.4mph to 4mph (with increments of 1/6mph) and support a weight of up to 220 pounds.
- Safety features like extra long arm rails and safety key
- Speeds of 0.4mph to 4mph, catering to the needs of the elderly
- Large LCD display for those with poor eyesight
- Prone to shipping damage, as complained by several customers.
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Regular exercise is as important for seniors as for any other adult to keep healthy and to ward off diseases. A treadmill is one of the safest and the most customizable means to do their daily workout.
There are several senior-friendly options available which include safety features, extra cushioning to prevent joint damage, large LCD display screens, and speed ranges that are comfortable for them.