Our metabolism and energy level tend to change as we grow older. As a result, our stamina, flexibility, and stamina drop significantly by the time we reach 60- 65 years. You can reverse these effects of aging by practicing treadmill workouts for seniors.
This will keep you inspired for a routine dose of workout. Moreover, it will promote healthy aging, reduce joint fitness and enhance your fitness. Best of all, it’s an ideal workout plan for those living with diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure.
Even with all these benefits, treadmills can pose safety risks if used incorrectly. Also, not every treadmill workout may be ideal for you, especially at an elderly age. For this reason, it’s important to engine in workouts that are a lot safer and more fun for you!
In today’s guide, I’ve listed some senior treadmill workouts you can safely and comfortably try. Let’s check them out!
1. 30-min Treadmill Workout
Exercising on treadmills for 30 minutes is a common routine, especially for beginners. It’s reasonably simple, making it ideal for seniors who are using a treadmill for the first time.
For excellent results, do this 30-min workout at least 5 days per week. Also, start small and increase your speed gradually for safety reasons. Before you start this workout routine, warm-up and stretch your body.
Once you’ve done that, walk for 1-minute on the treadmill while maintaining a comfortable pace. Then proceed to a simple-5 minute jog at a pace that allows you to have a conversation while jogging.
Next, increase the treadmill speed and sprint at your maximum speed for 30 seconds. Then go back to simple and comfortable jogging for at least 90 seconds.
Repeat the jog/ sprint intervals 10 times. If you do everything right, this will take you about 20 minutes. Lastly, continue with a simple brisk walking or jogging for the final 4 minutes to cool down.
2. Treadmill Walking for Overweight Seniors
Jogging or running may not be the best treadmill workout for overweight seniors. Instead, you should start small until your body gets used to a certain level of physical effort. A good exercise that you can perform on the treadmill is walking.
Treadmill walking is a simple exercise. So it’s the perfect option if you’ve not been working out for quite some time. Also, unlike other activities like running, it isn’t very taxing on the muscles. Not to forget that it doesn’t put more stress on your joints. More importantly, walking is a great way to burn the extra fat, help you lose weight over time. Also, according to Reuters, walking can minimize appetite for unhealthy sugary diets.
To start, warm and stretch your body before your treadmill workout begins. Set the lower speed on the machine and walk for like ten minutes.
After that, increase the pace by 1 increment and walk on the treadmill belt for another 20 minutes. Don’t adjust the treadmill’s incline level yet!
Walking the equipment for 30 minutes per day is enough to help you burn calories. You just need to repeat the above steps at least 5 days per week. However, remember to cool down towards the end of each workout session.
If you don’t experience joint or knee pain after the 1st week, increase the pace by 1 more increment. Maintain that pace for another week. Repeat these processes for the following weeks until you can safely jog on the treadmill.
Note; obesity can make it difficult for you to perform certain physical activities. So, before you try using a treadmill, consult with your doctor first.
3. Treadmill HIIT Workout for Seniors
HIIT workouts involve a high exertion level. For this, it can get increasingly hard to do as you age. This is due to reduced stamina, endurance, slower recovery, and general pains. However, this doesn’t mean that HIIT is only intended for young people. Studies have established that it can boost the fitness of older adults as well. So, provided you’re not suffering from joint pain or obesity, it’s a great workout option for seniors.
The idea behind this training exercise for seniors is very simple. You just need to do an intensity activity like running for a short time. Then switch it up with a lower-intensity activity like a gentle walk.
A treadmill is an excellent device for HIIT, especially for older adults. One reason for this is that you can adjust the incline, speed as well as intensity. Best of all, you can easily step off or stop the machine if you want to take a break.
To perform a treadmill HIIT workout for seniors, stretch and warm up first. Stretching makes your muscles limber and loose. Also, this helps to protect you from injury while working out.
Now, step on the treadmill and walk gently for 90 seconds. Adjust the incline to 2% and increase the speed for a 20-second sprint. This should be followed by walking on the machine for about 90 seconds.
Repeat the above process 4 to 6 times. For the last five minutes, walking on the machine until you cool down.
For starters, you can perform a HIIT workout on a treadmill once a week. But as you become fitter, you can gradually progress to performing it 2 to 3 times per week.
4. Treadmill Running Program for Seniors
A certain study shows that our running speed decreases as we grow older. For instance, at 60 years, our running speed is about 20% less as compared to when we’re 40.
If you’re planning to run on a treadmill at an older age, you don’t need to be fast. Besides, the WHO defines the act of jogging/ running at any speed as vigorous activity. So, provided you're raising your feet off the running deck while moving, you're running. The average treadmill speed for seniors can range from 1 to 3mph.
Like other treadmill workouts for over 50, you should take treadmill running gradually. To start, walk on the machine for 5 minutes to help your muscles warm up.
Then start running for 3 minutes at a constant pace. Do this 5 times week and increase the session by 3 minutes every week until you get to 15 minutes. To reach that goal, you’ll take about 5 weeks, giving you a total of 75 minutes per week. Although this will not be the same as running a marathon, it's an effective workout for seniors.
Remember, walking isn’t the same as running on a treadmill. For that reason, you should avoid using incline while running as it can apply too much stress to your knee joints. If you get any injury or soreness while running on a treadmill, take a break for a day or two.
Common Treadmill Mistakes Older Adults Make
A treadmill workout is one of the best ways for older adults to stay energetic. More importantly, it maintains their body functions in the best form possible. Unfortunately, if not used properly, treadmills can be dangerous. To make your workout safe and enjoyable, avoid the following mistakes:
Choosing the wrong treadmill
The treadmill you choose for senior walking is essential in fulfilling your goals. In general, you should choose a machine that feels sturdy.
Weight is another important aspect you need to put into consideration. For seniors weighing more than 200 pounds, the treadmill motor should at least have 2.5CHP. On the same note, you should check out the weight limit of that particular model.
More importantly, ask yourself; is the treadmill dangerous for seniors? Most treadmills in the market are safe for older adults. Nonetheless, you should check for features that are intended to guarantee safety of the elderly. For instance, the treadmill should have cushioned decks and long handles. Such properties provide balanced stability and safety during treadmill workout programs for seniors. If you've got an old workout machine for seniors, feel free to donate treadmills to charity.
Lastly, if you’ve got limited space at home, choosing compact and folding equipment should be a priority. That way, the treadmill can save on space, yet provide various workout benefits.
Wearing the wrong shoes and clothing
Wearing the wrong footwear during workouts can cause injury to your feet or joints. While wearing the wrong clothing makes your workout session uncomfortable.
To avoid these issues, look for the proper walking shoes and breathable clothing. For instance, you can wear loose clothing as it will help you walk with ease. However, it should not be so long, since it might get trapped in the treadmill belt. On the same note, ensure you double-tie the shoelaces. Although this may seem obvious, shoelaces can cause accidents while walking on treadmills.
Holding on to the handrail/ console
Seniors that use an assistive walking device can hold onto the handrail. But if you can walk without assistance, avoid holding onto the handrails.
Why I am saying this?
Walking on treadmills improves your walking stability and balance during your routine tasks. Unfortunately, building those skills becomes harder when you hold onto the handrails. Moreover, this can even cause pains and aches in certain body or even cause poor walking posture. To practice walking on the treadmill perfectly, move at low speeds. This will allows you to walk comfortably without any support. Also, consult your trainer, therapist, or doctor if you can walk on the machine hands-free.
Failing to warm up/ stretch before the workout
Most senior citizens don't warm up before treadmill workouts in an attempt to save time. However, this can lead to severe injuries that may last for a long time.
Warming up before a workout routine prepares your nervous system for exercise. More importantly, it prevents skipped heartbeats and premature fatigue. So, before you engage in any workout, do light exercises and warm-ups like brisk walking.
Moving on, our muscles tend to become tight and inflexible with age. Consequently, the tendons and ligaments surrounding the joints lose their fluids and elasticity. For this reason, it’s important to perform flexibility workouts at least 3 times per week. Regardless of the physical activity, stretching is as important as warming up. So, make sure to stretch either after warming up or after you finish your workout session.
Benefits of Treadmill Workouts for Seniors
Treadmill workouts can benefit senior citizens in various ways. For instance, they improve their general fitness and help them to lose weight. That said, let’s look at some of these benefits in depth:
Treadmill walking is ideal for obese seniors since it’s a low-impact cardio exercise. This means that it helps to burn calories, thus leading to weight loss. Some studies suggest that treadmill walking for half an hour aids in can burning about 140 calories. So, if you’re trying to maintain your weight, I’d recommend you spend at least 30 minutes a day walking on your treadmill.
Walking on a treadmill can be an important routine in physical therapy. According to experts, treadmill walking provides the same benefits as walking outside. Moreover, it can be beneficial for seniors with Down syndrome. This is because it can help to enhance their muscular strength.
Using a treadmill can also help to build your leg muscles. Thanks to the incline feature integrated into the machine. Also, it increases the muscle mass in the thighs, calves, glutes, and ankles.
Increased fitness for seniors with a chronic condition
If you’ve got a chronic condition, workouts will help you develop strength and fitness. For seniors that want to improve their fitness, a treadmill is an incredible option. Moreover, walking on the machine boosts your blood’s oxygen level. Not to forget that exercising improves your ability to move over long distances.
Strengthens abdominal muscles
Walking forces your abdominal muscles to work to stabilize the pelvis and trunk. As a result, your muscular tissues become stronger. Strong abdominal muscles play an important role, especially in older adults. For instance, they prevent falls, maintain the overall stability and improve your posture.
Luckily, you can make the muscles even stronger using treadmill workouts. To accomplish that, slowly increase the incline level or speed of the treadmill.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What’s the best treadmill speed for older adults?
There is no specific speed that seniors should use when exercising on treadmills. Besides, you should not even pay attention to speed. Instead, you should mainly focus on your safety. So, maintain a speed that you feel comfortable and safe with. To make your workout more intense, increase the incline level and maintain a slow pace.
2. Which workouts should senior citizens avoid?
There are some workout routines that older adults should avoid. They include; leg press, bench press, deadlift, squats with weights, HIIT, and upright row.
3. How far should older adults walk every day?
In general, senior citizens in good physical shape can walk about 2000 - 9000 steps every day. This is the same as walking a distance of about 1 to 4.5 miles daily.
4. Are treadmill workouts bad for knees?
Exercise on a treadmill can offer various benefits. However, problems may arise if you increase the speed, especially for older adults. This is because increasing the speed puts more pressure on the knees. As a result, you may experience irritation or increased pain in your knee joints.