Exercise is important at every age, but as we get older, getting enough physical exercise becomes crucial to living a long, high-quality, independent life.
In the US, about 69 percent of adults are either overweight or obese, which increases the risk for diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. Unfortunately, Americans who’ve lived mostly sedentary adult lives are unlikely to start a new exercise routine in their golden years unless they’ve already had a health scare.
And this is the challenge for many care professionals who work with seniors: How can you convince them to commit to regular physical exercise before they experience major health problems?
The answer to that question is anything but simple, but one of the most important considerations is the type of exercise equipment that seniors have access to. As the number of seniors continues to rise, senior centers, local recreation centers, and health clubs across the country are focused on promoting wellness programs aimed at getting people moving. But, while resources are being directed at classes and marketing, the kind of exercise equipment available to seniors is often overlooked.
Fitness centers that are successfully catering to the senior market have invested in equipment designed specifically for seniors.
Traditional cardio and strength training equipment is not only intimidating to older adults who aren’t used to working out in a gym, it can actually be harmful or dangerous.
For older adults, standard strength training equipment:
- Is intimidating
- Is difficult to adjust to height, weight, and body type
- Puts too much strain on joints
- Follows an unnatural movement pattern
- Pushes the user beyond a safe range of motion
- Presents an imbalance that might cause a fall
- Improper use can cause pain and injury
- Requires the user to know (and remember) how much weight to use, the number of repetitions to complete, and how to correctly perform the exercise
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that tens of thousands of people end up in the hospital each year for exercise equipment injuries. For older adults, these injuries can create long-term complications greatly reducing their quality of life and even leading to death.
The most common injuries are head trauma, broken bones, cuts and scrapes, and body trauma, incurred from a variety of reasons, including:
- Improper use
- Design flaws and defects from manufacturing
- Equipment that’s too closely spaced together
- Using too much weight or overextending range of motion
Of the people ending up in the hospital, the CPSC reports that many victims file lawsuits against the equipment makers, the gyms, or the retailers.
All of this can be avoided.
The Problem with Standard Strength Training Equipment
- Weight increases are too large. In many standard strength training machines, weights increase in 5 to 10-pound increments. Most older adults need to increase weight in much smaller increments to prevent excess strain that can quickly lead to injury.
- Starting loads above zero. Most standard strength training machines don’t allow the user to start with zero loads. For users who are new to strength training or recovering from an injury, starting an exercise with even 1 pound of weight can be too much. Zero starting loads are important both for safety and motivation. Sometimes the most important thing is to just help someone get started.
- Incorrect body positioning. Most standard strength training equipment requires manual adjustment of seat height and backrest positioning. This not only requires the user to remember where to position the seat for safety and comfort, it can present an intimidation factor that prevents a new user from even trying.
- Nonaccessible. Standard strength training equipment is not designed to be wheelchair accessible, automatically eliminating seniors who require the use of a wheelchair.
Free weights are just as dangerous and often ineffective.
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. Limited range of motion, reaching the limits of what a muscle can bear before putting the weight down, and problems with balance can set seniors up for injury.
“In our experience, the best and most effective exercise equipment for older adults on the planet is manufactured by HUR!”
– Dave Carlson, M.S.Ed., Administrator/CEO Club Galeon
The HUR Solution
HUR Strength Training Equipment was specifically designed for older adults and has been installed in over 10,000 fitness centers, senior housing, active aging, and rehabilitation centers across 5 continents.
HUR is setting the standard in senior strength training because the equipment includes:
- Pneumatic (air pressure) resistance: Easy-to-use technology provides optimal muscle loading (and is super quiet too!).
- Natural transmission: Pneumatic resistance follows the natural movement of the muscle and is easy on the joints and muscles.
- Easy on and off: Simple access is ideal for older adults and people with (or without) wheelchairs.
- Versatile functionality: HUR strength solutions are ideal for wellness, preventive, rehabilitative, and maintenance training.
- SmartTouch technology: Customized and automated exercising are safe and non-intimidating for users and documents results while saving staff time.
- Zero starting load: Ideal for beginners. Earlier initiation of rehabilitative therapy with lower weights yields faster results.
- Dual functioning: Several dual-function machines allow for smaller space requirements and lower two-for-one costs.
- Controlled, small incremental resistance: .25 pound increments allow for controlled advancement and easy-to-see gains.
- Evidence-based design: HUR’s University-level developed and tested and research-based equipment and concepts offer the best results.
“The HUR equipment is superior to anything else in town. I’ve tried other gyms and never stuck with it. At a normal gym, nothing is set up for you, but here the equipment adjusts automatically to my settings and helps me get the maximum benefit. Since using the HUR equipment I have better balance, strength and stamina.”
– Amy McGoldrick, community member of Mountain Home, AR
Setting the Standard in Senior Strength Training and Fall Prevention
For many older adults, the primary motivation behind committing to an exercise program is the fear of falling. Research over the past two decades has repeatedly shown that the most effective fall prevention programs target 3 specific functions:
- Core strength
- Muscle memory
- Executive functioning
The Dividat Senso targets all three of these important aspects with whole-body fall prevention exercises through virtual reality gaming. Users stand on a platform and move through interactive games and activities displayed on a screen in front of them. Sensors in the base plate capture each user’s movements and record the data, making automatic adjustments to their personal program to keep the activities challenging but also safe for their ability level.
“The HUR equipment is so important. It’s the best way to help prevent falls in older adults. As a Lifestyle Director, I’m familiar with the connection between strength training and fall prevention. But, more importantly, I see the evidence in our residents every single day.”
-Valerie Lesoon, Lifestyle Director, The Legacy at Falcon Point