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Fitness for Seniors

If you are over the age of 65, it is the perfect time to turn to exercise for all of the wonderful benefits it brings. Exercise has been proven to prevent disease, lower the risk of falls, improve mental health and strengthen social ties. Read our guide to find out which equipment is most suitable for exercising on at your local outdoor gym.

older people using an outdoor cross country skier

27th April 2021

As part of our commitment to introduce the British people to the many benefits of keeping fit outdoors, we provide a huge range of outdoor gym equipment for all ages, including senior fitness. 

Many pieces of our outdoor gym equipment offer low impact cardio, strength and resistance, great for a gradual build-up of confidence, strength and ability over time. Because our gyms are located outdoors, you also get added benefits of fresh air, natural daylight and sunshine which are proven to increase serotonin and make you feel happy.

Our outdoor gyms also provide a brilliant place for social interaction and many organised fitness groups use our equipment, so you don’t even have to start off alone, if you prefer not to. 

 

What is the best outdoor exercise machine for older adults?

Different outdoor gym machines offer different types of exercise. Some help to build heart strength and stamina, others balance and flexibility and we have ranges that help to build muscular strength and bone density too.

Cardio is often recommended by medical professionals, but progressive resistance training should not be overlooked. Providing you have checked with your medical practitioner, it improves bone health and reduces your risks of falling. 

Here are a few of the most popular Fresh Air Fitness outdoor gym machines with our senior community, plus tips on how to use each piece of equipment safely and effectively.

Always spend some time warming up before starting with some easy rhythmic movements and dynamic stretches. Why not downoad our free app which will guide you further.

 

Outdoor Recumbent Bike (STRENGTHENS HEART & LUNGS; SHARPENS YOUR MIND)

The Outdoor Recumbent Bike is a great cardiovascular piece with complete support for your back. 

Recumbent bikes for seniors are more comfortable on your back and knees because you sit in a more relaxed position. Here, you lie back as you cycle which puts less pressure on your joints and lets you focus more on the cardiovascular benefits of cycling.

This is a great exercise for older people because it works your stabilising muscles. Stabilising muscles are the most important muscles for support and for holding your body upright. Strong stabilising, or supporting, muscles provide good posture and alignment, which means decreased pain and risk of injury. 

The first couple of times you try an outdoor exercise bike, you may need to take regular breaks before continuing again. But it won’t be long before you start to go for longer sessions and start to feel the strength increasing in your calves, thighs and glutes. 

 

Cross Country Skier Machine (HELPS BALANCE, STRENGTHENS MUSCLES, FULL BODY WORKOUT)

The Cross Country Skier has been especially designed to provide a full body workout. The rhythmic, large muscle movements that characterise a cross-country ski machine workout provide efficient and effective aerobic exercise. 

A cross-country ski workout burns calories, controls weight, strengthens the heart and lowers blood pressure. NHS Live Well recommends adults aged 65 and over should aim to be physically active every day and do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity if you are already active, or a combination of both. 

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing. The Cross Country Skier Machine is great for this level of exercise. 

 

Double Air Walker Machine (HELPS COORDINATION, AEROBIC EXERCISE, EXCELLENT ALTERNATIVE TO WALKING OR JOGGING)

The Double Air Walker is one of the most popular pieces of equipment in our range and is good for all levels of fitness. It works heart, lungs, legs, glutes and hip flexors, and is very gentle on joints.

To get started, hold onto the bar and carefully place one foot on, followed by the other foot and slowly get the motion going. Have a nice straight back, engage the core and hold a nice strong position. This piece of equipment can be used with a partner or other member of your household, providing extra motivation and encouragement.  

If you've fallen or are worried about falling, doing exercises to improve your strength, balance and flexibility will help make you stronger and feel more confident on your feet. Speak to your GP if you have any concerns about exercising.

 

Outdoor Table Tennis Table (MENTAL AGILITY; HAND-EYE COORDINATION; AEROBIC EXERCISE AND SOCIALISING)

At Fresh Air Fitness, we also offer table tennis tables as part of our outdoor fitness range. 

Table tennis is the perfect activity to keep well. Not only does it keep your body fit; it keeps your brain fit. The complex, hand-eye co-ordination works wonders on our brain cells and helps prevent dementia. 

All ages play table tennis. Go to any club and you'll find young and old. But the best thing is that different ages compete equally with each other. Players with less physical strength (young and old) can compete equally with players in peak physical condition and give them a good thrashing!

Table tennis is amazing for senior fitness as there is low risk of injury and it’s great for increasing the heart rate and helping to keep your heart healthy and strong. As well as being a physical work out, it is also a great mental work out. Quick thinking and planning strategies to decide what spin to put on the ball, or how to react to the shots they are playing are decisions which have to be made in split seconds, and this increases concentration levels, short term memory and decision making ability. 

All this mental exercise boosts hormone levels and keeps the brain young, which can slow the progress of cognitive decline that occurs with ageing. According to a recent BBC study called ‘How to Live Young’ Table Tennis was compared to Walking and over a 10-week period results showed the group who played table tennis enjoyed an improvement in happiness as well as an increase in cortical thickness – which is the part of the brain that deals with complex thinking and shrinks with ageing. Table tennis had improved mental agility and overall well-being in just 10 weeks.

This fantastic sport is just as much about having fun and socialising as it is keeping fit. With its friendly but competitive nature, it breaks down social barriers, creates friendships and acts as a hub for the whole community to come together and enjoy themselves. 

 

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