6 Facts About Standard Fitness Equipment for Seniors

Most equipment isn’t designed for seniors.

We should just start there…

Even though that’s true, there’s hardly a gym out there that doesn’t compete for the senior fitness market. Let’s face it, it’s hot. People are living longer, healthier lives. That’s awesome. 70 is the new 50. Go humanity.

Unfortunately, most of these places are reaching out to this robust, amazing market, in the wrong way…

They do so with advertising and classes. Maybe some posters or a senior group get together. While this isn’t “bad,” necessarily, it’s missing the point of senior fitness.

Seniors have a unique skill set. They also have unique challenges. To truly cater to the senior market, gyms need customized machinery built for this specific demographic...but almost always don’t have it.

What’s worse is that sometimes the traditional equipment in gyms can actually be harmful or even dangerous. That’s completely defeating the purpose of proactive wellness! All that effort and motivation on the part of the older adult members can just end up in an injury or strain.

Most wouldn’t think of the gym equipment as being harmful, which is the point of this blog. Let’s educate and hopefully prevent some painful mistakes from happening in the first place.

Including, but not Limited to...

It needs to be said that while harmful equipment is listed here, it should be made clear that what a senior needs to avoid or focus on, depends on that particular person. This is obvious, but is always a good idea to restate…

The Red Flags

There are some red flags in any exercise that should alert professionals and users alike, that isn’t helping, but hurting. They are:

  • Any strain is placed on the senior’s joints
  • The equipment follows an unnatural movement pattern
  • If the exercise carries a risk of injury greater than any potential benefit
  • The equipment pushes the user beyond their own range of motion
  • The movement required increases imbalances already present
  • The equipment causes any pain or discomfort
  • Extreme breathlessness
  • Irregular or very rapid heart beat

Dangerous Statistics

Prevention magazine, USA Today, and more, report on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report that shows tens of thousands of people end up in the hospital each year for exercise equipment injuries.

Of the people that are sent, most are treated and released, but thousands are either admitted for further hospital care or have passed away by the time they go there.

Common injuries are head trauma, broken bones, cuts and scrapes, and body trauma.

The injuries come from a variety of reasons which include:

  • Improper use
  • Design mistakes
  • Defects from manufacturing
  • Too closely spaced equipment

Understandably, of the people ending up in the hospital, the CPSC reports that most victims file lawsuits against the equipment makers, the gyms, or the retailers.

It’s clearly a bigger problem than one might realize.

The 6 Facts

  1. Standard Senior Exercise Equipment isn’t made for seniors! It’s made for the general public. You know how gyms always have that sign up that tells children under 15 to go somewhere else? Right. That’s so they don’t hurt themselves on the equipment. There are some similarities between the very young and the very old. If the equipment isn’t safe enough for even a 10 year old, would it be safe enough for a very frail older adult in rehab after a broken hip? Probably not. Not that children should use the equipment by the way! Obviously. The point is safety.
  2. The weights go up 5-10 pounds at a time. Of this, most equipment goes up in 5 pound increments, if not 10. This is a huge difference, one that often prevents older adults from using a machine safely without straining. It also eliminates the small gains that can be made with ¼ pound increments, like that in HUR equipment.
  3. Most machines don’t start at “zero.” Common machines in standard gyms usually start with at least one weight plate to lift, pull, or press. When you have a senior just trying to move a particular joint and muscle, adding extra weight can prevent proper rehabilitation when the person just isn’t ready or even capable. This decreases their motivation and can prevent them from even starting.
  4. Most equipment is supposed to put the individual’s body in the correct positioning for the exercise, but sometimes it doesn’t.
  5. What if your user is in a wheelchair? What if the senior is in danger of falling off? What if it goes beyond, or even starts beyond, the users range of motion? That’s a pretty big accident waiting to happen. In this case it is often safer not to use the equipment at all.
  6. Free weights.Equipment like barbells, weight stacks, and dumbbells cause some of the most common gym injuries. Weights can drop (and then even bounce!) causing crushed bones, smashed toes, and worse. Hands can be slippery, limits can be reached before you know it, balance can be lost, and dizziness can set in.

The pieces of equipment responsible for injuries are common machines…

  • Treadmills
  • Lifting apparatus
  • Rowing machines
  • Stair machines
  • Ellipticals
  • Workout benches

The HUR Solution

HUR understands how important is to exercise safely for seniors. It’s the very foundation from which a user can then build. With common struggles like lack of motivation, frailty, and fear, keeping some seniors from exercising their potential, ensuring a stable and secure piece of equipment, can make the difference between success and failure. When users know they are safe, they feel the freedom of movement to do their workout without fear.

Just some of the key features in all of the HUR equipment that makes it safe for senior’s are:

  • Range limiters. No user goes beyond their body’s natural comfort and ability
  • Easy on and off for all users
  • Pneumatic resistance = Less joint strain, easy motion that’s gentle on the whole body
  • Zero starting load. Combined with pneumatic resistance, equipment can even move passively
  • Follows the natural movement of the muscle
  • #1 worldwide choice for senior equipment
  • HUR SmartTouch technology which allows for automatic weight, program, and position loading 

HUR realized they couldn’t make general equipment that also catered to seniors. They had to design equipment for seniors, that others could enjoy using. The key was to start with helping the very old, very frail, injured adults feel comfortable in their own bodies again. That’s the success.

Stay safe.

Get your members active.

Remember, Strong is Ageless ...

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