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    09 / May / 2022

    Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which is Better for Seniors?

    In this article, we will compare the benefits and drawbacks of using an elliptical machine vs. a treadmill for seniors. 

    Elliptical vs Treadmill: Which is Better for Seniors?

    Estimated reading time: 7.5 minutes

    Whether you are starting your fitness journey for the first time, or you’ve been a fitness enthusiast your entire life, there are many factors that determine which type of gym equipment is best suited for your needs. 

    One of these factors is age. Don’t be mistaken, you can feel younger than your age and be in fantastic shape. However, there may come a time in our lives when we aren’t as mobile as we once were. Once you reach this stage of life, it is important to continue your fitness journey in a way that is safe and beneficial. 

    This is why we are here. For over three decades, Akfit has operated as a Canadian specialty fitness store located in Sudbury, Ontario. We pride ourselves on working closely with our clients in helping them find the perfect fitness equipment for them, at any age.

    When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, the treadmill and elliptical are two of the most common fitness machines you can find in any gym. This is because they can both provide quality workouts and are easy to use. 

    In this article, we will compare the benefits and drawbacks of using an elliptical machine vs. a treadmill for seniors. 

    In this article:

    1. What to Consider Before Starting Your Fitness Journey
    2. 5 Benefits of Exercising for Older Adults 
    3. What is a Treadmill?
    4. Benefits of a Treadmill for Seniors
    5. What is an Elliptical
    6. Benefits of an Elliptical for Seniors
    7. Reach Out to Akfit
    Demand The Best - Matrix Fitness

     

    What to Consider Before Starting Your Fitness Journey as a Senior

    If you are over the age of 50 and you have yet to begin your fitness journey, you should talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise plan or program. 

    This is because using both the treadmill and elliptical can have a variety of injury risks associated with them. While the types of risk  may differ between the two machines, everyone’s health is different and there is no perfect solution for everyone. 

    Treadmills can worsen existing injuries such as knee or hip pain if you workout at too high of an intensity that your body is not ready for. In fact, working out on a treadmill can result in bursitis or tendinitis in the knee even if you don’t have a pre-existing injury. 

    Similarly, on an elliptical you can increase the chance of bursitis developing in the hip if you workout too hard. 

    While working out, make sure to closely monitor your health. Be sure to call your doctor immediately if you experience the following:

    • Chest pain
    • Joint pain
    • Dizziness
    • Shortness of breath

     

    What is a Treadmill?

    A treadmill is a common style of fitness equipment that is a staple in home and commercial gyms. 

    These machines allow the user to run, jog, or walk in place on a mobile belt. This provides a great cardio workout while not being subject to the unpredictable elements the great outdoors can present. 

    Most treadmills allow you to be the one in control, with the ability to adjust your incline and speed levels with the simple press of a button. Many of these machines can also include these features: 

    • Heart-rate monitors
    • Consoles to track your workout data
    • Cooling fans
    • Virtual training software compatibility 
    • A variety of workout programs
    • And much more

    It is recommended that if you are over the age of 50 to have a heart rate monitor that is compatible with your treadmill or at least have one on hand. 

    For more information on treadmills, check out our Top 5 Best Selling Treadmills

     

    Benefits of Treadmills for Seniors

    Some of the many benefits of using a treadmill for seniors can include:

    Treadmills can Emulate Your Outdoor Workouts

    If you are someone who prefers to walk, jog, or run outdoors, it  can be safer to do so on a treadmill indoors, especially as a senior. 

    Exercising outdoors can become dangerous if the conditions aren’t ideal. Icy roads, wet conditions, and inconsistent terrain can lead to falls and injury if you aren’t careful. 

    If you choose to bring your regular outdoor exercise indoors on a treadmill, consider purchasing a treadmill with a longer belt. A 60-inch treadmill belt is typically the ideal size for tall runners. However, if you aren’t as mobile, the longer belt will provide more room to reduce the risk of falling and injury. 

    Easier to Access

    When we say that treadmills are easier to access, we don’t mean they are easier machines to find. What we do mean is that treadmills are easier to hop on and use compared to most ellipticals. 

    The pedals or platforms of an elliptical are generally placed at a higher height than a treadmill, and both pedals may move as you attempt to step on. This can make the treadmill more ideal for someone who isn’t as mobile and is looking for a comfortable walk. 

    Improve Your Heart and Blood Vessel Health

    Treadmills provide a great source of aerobic exercise, which in turn, can improve your heart and blood vessel health. However, as previously mentioned, it is ideal to combine your treadmill workouts with the use of a heart-rate monitor. 

    Fight Off Age-Related Loss of Muscle Mass

    Even if you are younger, or older, your fitness levels can vary. Thankfully with the use of a quality treadmill, you are in control of your workouts. Gradually increasing your speeds and incline can actually help fight off age-related loss of muscle mass. 

    However, you should consult your doctor if you are starting your fitness journey for the first time and you are over the age of 50. 

     

    Drawbacks of Treadmills for Seniors

    Using a treadmill may not be better for everyone. Here are some drawbacks you can experience if you are a senior using a treadmill:

    • Treadmills can worsen knee and hip pain
    • Bursitis or tendinitis can develop in the knee
    • Running or jogging is not ideal if you suffer from a cardiovascular disorder
    • Running or jogging is not recommended if you suffer from arthritis 

    All seniors should consult with their doctor before performing any exercise on a treadmill.

     

    What is an Elliptical?

    The elliptical (also known as an elliptical trainer) is a stationary cardio machine that allows users to walk, run, or even stair climb on a low-impact workout.

    When using an elliptical, you move in an elongated circle while your feet are placed on two individual platforms or pedals with the ability to go forwards or backward. These machines also provide the opportunity to work out your upper body by engaging with the mobile arm handles.

    Many ellipticals also offer incline and resistance adjustments, and some may even feature high-end consoles that are compatible with virtual training software.

    These machines are particularly good for those recovering from injuries as they don’t cause the same excessive pressure to your joints, muscles, and bones as running on a treadmill might.

     

    Benefits of Ellipticals for Seniors

    In comparison to using a treadmill, engaging with an elliptical machine has its own advantages that may be more favorable for you depending on your health. 

    They Provide a Low-Impact Workout

    When engaging with an elliptical, the user moves their feet on the two pedals/platforms in a smoother motion than walking or running on a treadmill, thus creating a lower-impact workout. 

    A lower-impact workout does not mean your workout is lower-intensity. What this does mean is that your workout will have less impact on your joints, bones, and muscles. Especially on your lower body in comparison to the treadmill. 

    This means that working out on an elliptical machine can come with a reduced chance of injury or could be more favorable to use if you are recovering from an injury. 

    Ellipticals can Provide Upper-Body Workouts

    While using an elliptical, you can work out your upper body with the use of the mobile arm handles that move in unison with the foot pedals. Engaging with the arm handles will actually work out your back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and chest.

    Increasing the resistance levels on your elliptical can also help promote muscle growth combating age-related muscle loss.

    Increase Your Balance and Stability 

    The elliptical machine can provide seniors who are able to stand for a long time the opportunity to improve their balance and stability. 

    The arm handles also can also work as a fantastic security feature to allow users to hold on to, thus making these machines potentially safer in that aspect. 

    For more information on the differences between elliptical machines and treadmills, check out our In-Depth Comparison of Ellipticals vs. Treadmills

     

    Drawbacks of Ellipticals for Seniors

    Using an elliptical can provide some of these drawbacks for you if you’re an older adult:

    • You can potentially develop spasms in the chest if you have low-strength
    • Heart problems can worsen if you suffer from cardiovascular disorders
    • Many elliptical trainers have pedals at heights difficult to step on to
    • You won’t build the same muscle mass in your lower-body as using a treadmill

    As previously mentioned, consult your doctor if you are over the age of 50 before performing any exercise program or training on an elliptical. 

     

    5 Benefits of Exercising for Seniors

    Whether you decide to use a treadmill or an elliptical, there are many benefits of exercising throughout old age.

    While exercising at any point in your life has its benefits, here are some benefits of exercise that may apply to those over the age of 50. 

     

    1) Reducing the Impact of Illness and Disease

    Adults, of all ages, who exercise regularly are less likely to be subject to health problems such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancers. 

    Those who workout also have an increased chance of having healthier blood pressure, stronger bone density, and improved immune and digestive functionality. 

    2) Improving Your Balance, Flexibility, and Mobility - Reducing the Risk of Falls

    Regular exercise can improve your strength and posture. This can result in improved balance and coordination which can reduce the risk of falls. 

    3) Maintaining or Losing Weight

    As you get older, your metabolism begins to slow down which can make keeping weight at a healthy level a difficulty for some. 

    However, performing regular exercise can increase your metabolism and help build muscle mass, in turn, resulting in your body being able to also burn more calories. 

     

    4) Improving Your Sleep Habits

    As a senior you grow older, getting the proper amount of sleep is important for your overall health. Thankfully, engaging in regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and more deeply. This can result in feeling more energetic the next day as well. 

    5) Healthier Brain Function

    Regular exercise may increase brain function and promote the ability to multitask and be more creative. Exercising can help prevent or slow the process of memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. 

     

    Reach Out to Akfit

    We hope that our comparison article of treadmills vs. ellipticals will help you narrow down which machine is right for you as an active senior. 

    However, as previously mentioned, if you are just starting your fitness journey for the first time and are over the age of 50, make sure to consult your doctor before engaging in any physical activity. 

    If you have determined if you want a treadmill or elliptical, but are unsure of which exact model is right for you, we can help.

    We highly encourage reaching out to us with any fitness-related questions you may have. Our fitness professionals will work closely with you to help you find the product that is best suited for your needs and your budget. 

    You can always visit us in-store at our Sudbury location or you can book a virtual meeting with one of our fitness representatives to discuss the fitness products you are interested in. 

    If you have decided on the equipment you believe is best suited for you, you can always request a delivery or installation. You can also check out our detailed breakdown of our delivery and installation services

    We also can provide you with equipment servicing and preventative maintenance plans too. 

    Whichever your fitness-related requirements or goals may be, we at Akfit are here to help you and all of our loyal clients see fitness success.


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