As they age, seniors experience a decline in their abilities including the decline of their mobility, joint, and bone strength, hearing, sight, and cognitive function. Movement becomes a challenge as their bodies become fragile and their bones become more prone to injury. But keeping up a good exercise routine with light strain on the knees is great with ellipticals for the elderly.
Even in old age, seniors can still engage in gentler exercises to remain healthy, fit, and active in their sunset years. Apart from knowing which type of exercise is best for seniors, it is also important to know the type of exercise equipment to invest in.
What is an elliptical machine?
An elliptical machine, also known as a cross trainer. It’s a type of workout machine that lets you move your legs up and down (similar to pedaling). It is an effective exercise machine for low-impact cardio exercises. You can use an elliptical for exercise routines such as running, walking, jogging, climbing, and more. Elliptical exercises have minimal stress on your delicate bones and joints. Especially the back, hip, and knee joints which are more susceptible to chronic pain.
An elliptical machine is built with armrests and handlebars to offer support and stability to users. A user stands on the pedal of the machine and moves the legs back and forth similar to the strides one takes when cycling, walking, jumping, running, or climbing. Some ellipticals have moving handlebars allowing users to build their upper body strength and most will have adjustable speed and resistance for a higher challenge. This makes the elliptical machine a great tool that engages the upper and lower body simultaneously during a workout.
||Cubii JR1 Under Desk Elliptical||9.8|
||Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Portable Under Desk Elliptical Machine||9.8|
|Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical Machine for Home Workout||9.7|
||LifePro Under Desk Elliptical||9.5|
|Stamina InMotion Compact Strider||9.5|
|ANCHEER Under Desk Elliptical Machine||8.9|
|SITFIT Under Desk Elliptical Exercise Bike||8.8|
Types of elliptical machines
A successful workout regime starts by selecting the right elliptical machine for your needs. There are three main categories of elliptical machines based on the position of the machine’s motor which is also known as the flywheel or drive.
- Rear-driven elliptical machines: The rear-drive elliptical was the first category to be released on the market in the mid-90s and is still widely used today. The flywheel of the rear-drive elliptical is located at the back of the machine and the pedals are in the center to provide a wider horizontal range of motion and amazing central balance. This makes this a good choice elliptical for a heavy person and those looking for an elliptical that will allow you to mimic our natural walking, jogging, or running motion.
- Front-driven elliptical machines: Also known as a shuffle trainer, the front-drive elliptical is designed with its flywheel at the front of the machine and pedals at the back to allow for a vertical range of motion similar to that of a stair climber. If you are looking for an elliptical machine that is ideal for users with a limited range of mobility, the front drive makes a good option.
- Center-driven elliptical machines: This is a relatively new category of ellipticals. They are designed with movable handlebars and flywheels at the center on either side of the pedals. They are also quite compact which makes them great for full-body cardio workouts. Center drive ellipticals are popular among home users.
Elliptical buying guide
Your average elliptical machine will cost anywhere between $700 and $1500. For this reason, your machine should provide more benefits than your basic requirements. Keeping in mind the following factors will help you choose the right elliptical machine for your needs.
The drive design of an elliptical machine is determined by the position of its flywheel. Thus, an elliptical machine will be a front, center, or rear drive. Rear and center drive ellipticals offer a flatter more natural experience similar to walking or running on the ground. So you don’t have to lean forward during workouts.
The front drive ellipticals offer a wider vertical incline. They are less flat and give users a stair-climbing experience during exercise. For this reason, users tend to lean forward into the handlebars when exercising.
Still, look for adjustable foot pedals for varying movements and different levels of workout challenges.
Depending on the type, most ellipticals’ incline ranges between 15% and 25%. An adjustable incline allows you to adjust your workout routine by increasing the intensity also helping you to focus your workout on different muscle groups of your body.
The resistance of an elliptical refers to the level of difficulty when powering the flywheel by spinning the pedals with your feet. An elliptical with several resistance levels is definitely the better option as it allows you to progress to different workout intensity levels. Most ellipticals offer between 8 and 10 levels of resistance with the more advanced ones going up to 16 levels. The resistance level is adjusted electronically.
The stride length refers to the length of the rails on which the wheels of the elliptical roll. Most machines will have a stride length ranging between 7 inches and 24 inches. The right stride length for you depends on your size and height. However, an elliptical with adjustable stride length is more versatile and can be used by both tall and short people. This also helps you vary your workout to target different muscle groups.
Most people prefer moveable handlebars. However, the top-quality elliptical machines come with two sets of handlebars, the fixed and the moveable. The fixed handles are a safety feature while the moveable handlebars help to exercise the upper part of the body simultaneously with the lower body during exercise. Handlebars can also be adjustable. Still, using the elliptical without arms is for those looking for a much higher workout challenge.
User weight capacity
Most ellipticals come with a weight capacity of 300lb and more. Still, you need to invest in a machine with a higher weight capacity than your body weight. Secondly, ellipticals with higher weight limits are often strong.
The noise level of an elliptical machine depends on the weight of the flywheel (motor). Heavier flywheels deliver better smoother performance and are more silent in comparison to lighter ones. Again, the lighter flywheels often feel unstable.
Program and controls
An elliptical program and controls are the extra features that create a worthwhile experience for users. Preprogrammed workouts are great as they allow people to engage in a variety of exercises. Some elliptical machines will have as many as 30 pre-programmed workouts, while others will have fewer, it is just a matter of preference.
Other additional features in elliptical machines include a screen that displays information such as calories burned, speed, distance covered, resistance, and time. The more advanced ones will include a heart rate monitoring or control feature, a fan, customizable programs, and a fitness tracker that can integrate with your favorite fitness apps. Others have the ability to cache user information.
Why you need an under-desk elliptical machine
In the past, home workout solutions were limited first because most workout equipment were designed for the gym and so required much space. Secondly, an average elliptical machine costs between $1000 and $2000 which can be quite steep an investment for a home workout. This is where the under-desk elliptical machine comes in.
The under-desk elliptical machines are mini versions of the typical ellipticals in the gym. Additionally, they are lightweight and as the name suggests, they are usually positioned under the desk to be used while engaged in other activities like office work or home chores. Also, they make great options for overcoming the effects of a sedentary lifestyle for people who spend most of their time seated at their desks working.
They are designed with pedals that you step on and move your legs in an elliptical motion while seated. Some are sturdy enough to support exercise while standing. Most of them come with adjustable resistance.
Do under-desk ellipticals work?
The average American sits for at least 6.5 hours a day according to the Journal of the American Medical Association study. Long hours of sitting are one major cause of health risks such as obesity, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and others.
If you are asking how much elliptical to lose weight, users that have invested in an under-desk elliptical have been found to burn an average of 150 calories an hour. While this may not seem like much, it makes a huge difference if users engage in consistent regular workouts. Consider a 45-minute workout session three times a week consistently. Experts recommend a healthy diet in addition to exercising on the under-desk elliptical machine.
Ellipticals are beneficial, especially to seniors, those with limited mobility due to disability, those with previous injury or surgery, and those who sit for long hours.
What is an elliptical good for?
Some benefits of an elliptical machine workout are:
- Increased energy expenditure.
- Offers an easy way to combine work with a workout.
- Low-impact, low-intensity workout, easy on joints and bones.
- A good option for interval training.
7 Best Ellipticals for the Elderly
We rounded up 7 best ellipticals for the elderly. These units are versatile, built to last, and designed with amazing features. Check out our review for each of the units to see why you need to consider them if you are planning a purchase.
Cubii JR1, Under Desk Elliptical, Bike Pedal Exerciser
The JR1 model of the Cubii under-desk elliptical machines is a compact model built with impressive features. These include adjustable resistance up to 8 levels and a built-in LCD fitness tracker screen that enables you to customize your workout and easily track your progress. The LCD screen will display your workout information including distance covered, RPM, calories burnt, and strides. The digital workout monitor integrates with the Cubii mobile app on which you manually enter your fitness stats. This machine is also strongly built with a 250 lb. weight capacity and features whisper-quiet operation.
The Cubii JR1 under-desk elliptical machine makes a good option for people who sit for long periods with not much time to spare for working out. Conveniently assemble and disassemble it in 10 minutes or less and use this low-impact workout machine to flex your hips, lose weight, burn calories, or boost your muscle strength. It is also great for those with limited mobility as it allows them to work out while seated.
- Compact portable size and ergonomic design
- Digital tracker
- Smooth quiet operation
- Great for all levels and ages of users
- At 27 lb. this elliptical can be bulky and heavier for some users
- Purely leg exercises are limited to building the lower body muscles including hips, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and lower back muscles.
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3872 Magnetic Portable Under Desk Elliptical Machine
This versatile front-drive elliptical machine by Sunny Health & Fitness elliptical features a 7-inch stride length and digital monitor to help you keep track of your time, speed, distance covered, and calories burnt while working out. It makes for a great mate for low-impact workouts. Its compact under-desk design is ideal for people whose lifestyle involves sitting or lying for long periods of time.
It is a great choice if you are looking to work out your lower body muscles and is designed to support up to 220 lbs. It comes with 8 levels of resistance powered by the belt drive magnetic resistance mechanism that is not only great for its low noise level but also requires low maintenance.
- Solidly constructed with high-quality steel metal
- Non-slip pedals
- Lightweight and come with a carry handle for easy transportation
- Quiet operation
- Bulky and not easy to move around
- A smaller range of motion and is best used when seated
Cubii PRO Under Desk Elliptical Machine
The Pro elliptical machine model by Cubii, like most others in its league, is a low-impact elliptical that adjusts through 8 levels of resistance. It comes with an LCD screen and syncs with the Fitbit smart bands and Apple’s HealthKit app via Bluetooth. That means you can track your workout progress in real time wherever you go. In addition, you have access to live-On demand workout classes available in the Cubii Studio+ which is a great addition to this model.
This under-desk elliptical features pedal bike cycle motion and a compact design that makes it perfect for home or office workouts while seated at your desk or couch. It is rated to support up to 250 lbs. and delivers a whisper-quiet experience with a smooth glide. It is available in chrome and noir color options.
- Compact ergonomic design
- Integrated with the Cubii app which syncs to android, iPhone, Fitbit smart bands, and Apple HealthKit
- Smooth pedaling motion
- Low profile for safe workouts
- Resistance levels are adjusted manually which can be cumbersome in an under-desk model
LifePro Under Desk Elliptical
This under-desk elliptical by LifePro is the perfect machine for all levels of lower-body workouts for all people including seniors, men, women, and the youth. It is compact, portable, and designed with a carry handle. This elliptical is great for on-the-go or home users who desire to exercise as they do other things while seated.
Like most others in its league, it comes with 8 resistance levels and its pedals adjust to three positions (both sitting and standing). You can customize your workout on the screen from warm-up, light cardio, and endurance training, to muscle toning. The LCD monitor displays your workout info. Sync it with your smartphone via Bluetooth and track your progress.
The LifePro elliptical comes with a floormat, resistance band, caster stoppers for your chair, and a tether strap for safety.
- Versatile, 8 resistance levels and adjustable pedals
- Easy setup
- Great safety additions
- Solidly built product
- It is difficult adjusting pedals and working out while standing is quite taxing
- Portable but bulky
- A small range of motion
Stamina InMotion Compact Strider
The Stamina InMotion is a great choice if you are looking for a smart, compact design, under-desk elliptical model. It is versatile with both sitting and standing as well as forward and reverse stride motion options allowing you to work out your upper and lower body. You can opt to use the no-subscription workout app or sync your workout with others like the FitBit smart bands to track your calories burned, stride count, distance covered, and workout time. The former is an all-in-one workout app with custom workouts, a fitness tracker, personalized training, and an assembly video.
Together with a manually adjusted resistance and quiet operations, this elliptical is designed with amazing safety and convenience features including non-slip pedals so your feet won’t slide off and a carry handle. Its weight capacity is rated at 250 lb.
- Large textured pedals
- Resourceful No-subscription app
- Short strides
- Noisy operation after some time of use
ANCHEER Under Desk Elliptical Machine
The ANCHEER under-desk elliptical has a unique stylish design with several modes of operation to add to its versatility. A forward/backward pedal motion, manual modes and 5-speed levels make this an elliptical machine worth your consideration.
It is equipped with an LCD touchscreen monitor that displays mode, speed, time, and pedal direction controls, and also displays your workout stats. It is operated with a remote control which is a great unique convenient function for adjustment of speed and mode on the fly. You’ll love the large ergonomic non-slip pedals. They are not only safe but also quite comfortable for your workout. This elliptical machine is compact, portable, and operates quietly.
- Ready to use out-of-the-box. Needs no assembly
- Convenient remote control
- Touchscreen display
- Large textured pedals
- Manual and auto modes, forward/back pedal motion
- Manual resistance adjustment
- Only used while seated
SITFIT Under Desk Elliptical Exercise Bike
The SITFIT under-desk elliptical is another easy-to-use model that is ready to use right out of the box. Simply plug and use. It features manual and automatic remote-control modes and bi-directional non-slip pedals. With 5 speed levels, two operation modes, and present programs, you can easily customize your workouts to suit your needs. The inbuilt digital monitor helps you track your progress by displaying your workout speed, distance, calories burned, and time information.
The SITFIT mini pedal, like many other under-desk pedals, is compact and lightweight and has a carry handle integrated to enhance its portability, great for use at home and in the office. This makes it a great elliptical for seniors and others who are worried about a sedentary lifestyle but cannot afford time for workouts. Its unique remote/phone holder will come in handy during your workout.
- No assembly is required. Ready for use out of the box
- Non-slip pedals with a side track
- Manual and automatic control
- Compact and lightweight weighing only 16 lbs.
- Seated under-desk elliptical
The negative effects of sitting down for long hours can easily be overcome by actively moving around. Sadly, many people are sedentary and not by choice because they are forced to sit to work for longer hours. The older generation and those with disability are also too fragile to engage in heavy gym workouts. Still, these groups of people need regular exercise to remain physically strong and active. This is where the best ellipticals for the elderly come in handy. An under-desk elliptical machine is typically a compact ergonomic machine for seated, low-impact workouts.