As we age, it becomes increasingly important to maintain an active lifestyle. But what if you’re not comfortable with outdoor exercise or the gym? A treadmill can be an excellent option for seniors, providing a safe and effective way to stay active.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 28-34% of adults aged 65-74 are physically active. With the numerous benefits of exercise for seniors, including improved balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular health, it’s essential to find a workout routine that works for you.
Treadmill workouts are a great option for seniors looking to maintain an active lifestyle, but it’s important to approach them with caution. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of treadmill workouts for seniors and provide tips for safe and effective exercises to help you stay healthy and active.
Benefits of Treadmill Workouts for Seniors
Treadmill workouts are an excellent form of exercise for seniors, offering a range of benefits that can help them maintain their physical and mental well-being.
Here are some of the top benefits of treadmill workouts for seniors:
1. Increased Fitness: Regular treadmill workouts can help seniors improve their cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance, which can help them stay active and engaged in daily life.
2. Weight Loss: Consistent treadmill workouts can aid in weight loss by burning calories and shedding excess body fat. This is particularly important for seniors who may have limited mobility or health issues that prevent them from engaging in other forms of physical activity.
3. Brisk Walking: A regular brisk walking routine on the treadmill can help seniors maintain their fitness, reduce health risks, and regulate essential health conditions like blood pressure and diabetes.
4. Reduced Health Risks: Participating in regular treadmill workouts can reduce health risks such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Incorporating regular treadmill workouts into a senior’s exercise routine can have numerous health benefits, including increased fitness, weight loss, brisk walking, and reduced health risks.
However, seniors should consult with an exercise physiologist or healthcare professional to determine the ideal activity level before starting an exercise routine. Overall, treadmill workouts offer a low-impact, effective, and accessible exercise option for seniors looking to improve their physical and mental health.
While treadmill workouts are generally safe and effective for seniors, it is essential to consider safety before starting a treadmill exercise program. Seniors can minimise the risks associated with treadmill workouts and enjoy their exercise routine with confidence by taking necessary precautions.
Here are some safety considerations for seniors before starting a treadmill workout routine:
1. Consult a Healthcare Provider: Before embarking on a treadmill workout program, seniors should consult a healthcare provider. A doctor can evaluate an individual’s baseline health and recommend the most appropriate exercise program. This evaluation can help prevent potential health risks and promote a safe and effective exercise routine.
2. Start Slow: While regular exercise is crucial for physical health, seniors should not push themselves too hard too soon. It is essential to start with a slow and comfortable pace and gradually increase the intensity, duration, and incline setting. Seniors should also listen to their bodies and stop exercising if they experience any pain or discomfort.
3. Proper Attire: Wearing the appropriate clothes and shoes is crucial while working out on a treadmill. Seniors should wear comfortable clothes that allow unrestricted movement and supportive footwear that provides cushioning and stability.
4. Hydration: Adequate hydration is necessary during treadmill workouts to prevent dehydration and manage blood pressure. Seniors should drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising.
5. Proper Form: Seniors should maintain proper posture and form while working out on a treadmill to avoid undue stress on their joints and muscles. They should avoid slouching, leaning forward, or holding onto the handrails excessively. A certified exercise physiologist can help seniors learn and practice the correct form and posture.
Maximum Heart Rate During Workout
Maximum heart rate is an essential factor to consider during treadmill workouts for seniors. It is the highest heart rate an individual can achieve during exercise and is a crucial component in determining the target heart rate range.
To calculate your target heart rate range, subtract your age from 220 to determine your maximum heart rate. Then, multiply your maximum heart rate by 0.6 to determine the lower end of your target heart rate range and by 0.8 to determine the higher end.
For example, if you are 70 years old, your maximum heart rate is approximately 150 beats per minute (220-70=150), and your target heart rate range would be between 90 (150 x 0.6) and 120 (150 x 0.8) beats per minute.
As you exercise on a treadmill, adjust your speed to stay within your target heart rate range. Staying within this range can provide numerous benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased oxygen levels, better blood pressure management, increased muscle mass, and improved mental health.
However, it’s crucial to listen to your body and prioritise safety during treadmill workouts. Seniors should start slow, gradually increase the intensity, stay hydrated, and consult a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.
Incline Settings For Maximum Benefit
Adjustable incline range on a treadmill can provide maximum benefit during workouts for seniors. In addition to a steady pace and moderate intensity, incorporating incline settings can activate posterior chain muscles, improve balance, and simulate real outdoor conditions.
The posterior chain muscles include the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles, which are often neglected in daily activities. However, they are crucial for maintaining good posture and balance, preventing falls, and reducing the risk of injuries. An incline can activate these muscles and help seniors strengthen them.
In addition to muscle activation, incline settings can also improve balance by challenging the body’s stability. With an adjustable incline range from -3% up to 12%, the ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill is an excellent option for seniors who want to improve their balance and strengthen their posterior chain muscles. The incline range allows for a gradual increase in difficulty to prevent injury or strain.
Moreover, the incline settings on a treadmill can simulate outdoor conditions, such as hills or uneven terrain, without exposing seniors to the risk of tripping or falling. This type of training can prepare seniors for outdoor activities and prevent injuries due to lack of preparation or training.
Adjusting Pace and Intensity Levels
Seniors can effectively adjust their pace and intensity levels during treadmill workouts by using the Borg Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale and their target heart rate range. The Borg RPE scale is a numerical rating system ranging from 6 to 20 that rates perceived exertion from very light (6) to maximum exertion (20).
The following table can be used as a reference guide:
|Standing or Walking Slowly
The four perceived exertion zones are easy (RPE 9-11), moderate (RPE 12-13), hard (RPE 14-16), and very hard (RPE 17-19). Seniors can use these zones to determine their level of exertion on the treadmill and adjust accordingly.
To reach their target heart rate, seniors should aim for an RPE range between 12 and 16. The recommended speed range for seniors is between 3.2 to 6.4 kilometres per hour (kph), depending on their level of exertion. For example, an easy pace would be around 3.2 kilometres per hour, while a moderate pace would be around 4.8 kilometres per hour.
Making use of the Borg RPE scale and aiming for target heart rate ranges can help seniors adjust their pace and intensity levels on the treadmill effectively. Keeping within their level of exertion and speed range can lead to a safe and effective workout.
Types of Treadmill Workouts For Seniors
Treadmill workouts are excellent exercises for seniors to improve their physical health and cardiovascular health. However, not all treadmill workouts are created the same way.
Seniors should know the different types of treadmill workouts that are suitable for their age and fitness level to reap the maximum health benefits.
In this section, we’ll discuss the various types of treadmill workouts that seniors can do, each with different levels of intensity, incline settings, and durations. With these options, seniors can choose a workout that best suits their preferences and meets their fitness goals while ensuring safety and comfort.
Brisk walking on a treadmill is an excellent exercise for seniors as it provides numerous health benefits. First and foremost, brisk walking is an effective way to increase heart rate and boost cardiovascular health. It helps improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Another benefit of brisk walking on a treadmill is that it also helps maintain muscle mass, which tends to decrease with age. It strengthens the leg muscles and improves balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
To properly execute brisk walking on a treadmill, seniors should maintain a comfortable pace that is neither too slow nor too fast. A recommended walking speed is between 4.0 to 5.6 kilometres per hour. The duration of exercise is also important, with experts suggesting aiming for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking most days of the week.
Regular brisk walking on a treadmill is an excellent workout for seniors, promoting physical and cardiovascular health while maintaining muscle mass.
Steady Pace Jogging/Running
Steady-pace jogging/running on a treadmill can provide numerous benefits for seniors. This type of exercise helps improve cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate and promoting oxygenation of the body. It also aids in maintaining muscle mass, which naturally decreases with age, and can improve mental health by releasing endorphins and reducing stress levels.
For seniors, it is recommended to jog/run on a treadmill at a speed range between 6.4 kph to 9.6 kph, depending on individual physical abilities. It’s important to start at a slower pace and gradually increasing the speed to avoid injury or discomfort. Seniors must also listen to their bodies and be mindful of any physical discomfort during the workout.
Incorporating steady-pace jogging/running into a regular exercise routine can also provide significant health benefits for seniors, including increased muscle strength, improved balance, and enhanced overall physical well-being. Remember to prioritise safety while aiming for at least 30 minutes of steady-pace jogging/running on most days of the week.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that involves alternating between high-intensity exercise and rest or low-intensity exercise. For seniors looking to improve their cardiovascular health and fitness, HIIT can be performed on a treadmill by walking quickly or lightly jogging for brief intervals, followed by longer periods of slower walking or rest.
For example, one HIIT workout on a treadmill for seniors could involve walking at a comfortable pace for three minutes, followed by jogging at a faster pace for one minute, repeating this pattern for a total of 20-30 minutes. This type of workout improves oxygen levels and helps increase muscle mass, while also improving heart health.
It is absolutely important to start HIIT at a lower intensity and gradually increase the intensity over time. Seniors should also listen to their bodies and be aware of any physical discomfort during the workout. Incorporating HIIT into a regular exercise routine can be an effective way for seniors to improve their overall physical health.
Seniors can benefit greatly from regular treadmill workouts, improving both physical and mental health. Exercise physiologists recommend incorporating cardio and balance exercises at a moderate pace, as well as low-impact workouts to reduce strain on joints.
HIIT workouts, including brisk walking and jogging, can also be effective in promoting heart health, increasing muscle mass, and improving oxygen levels. It is recommended to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day, preferably several days per week, to see results.
Seniors should consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise program and adjust according to their activity level and comfort. To avoid injury and maintain a comfortable pace, seniors should focus on incline settings and speed decreases on the treadmill they are using. With these considerations in mind, treadmill workouts can be an excellent addition to a senior’s exercise routine.