Are Treadmills Safe for the Elderly?

Walking is often prescribed to the elderly as a way to be more active. Walking for just 30 minutes a day meets the daily recommended level of physical activity for the elderly and reduces health risks. Sometimes it is not possible for a senior to go out and walk alone, and a treadmill can provide a safe place to exercise, as long as proper precautions are taken. So, are treadmills safe for the elderly?

Yes. Treadmills are safe for the elderly and walking for just 30 minutes a day can provide a wide range of health benefits and lead to a longer and healthier life. Take a look at this article from The Arthritis Foundation to learn more.

Read on to learn how a treadmill can improve the elderly’s life and how to make sure that a treadmill routine is safe for seniors.

Treadmills Safe for the Elderly

The Benefits of a Treadmill for Seniors

Not only can seniors use a treadmill to ensure that they meet the guidelines of 30 minutes a day of walking, but they can use them to run as well. A study done by Pols One shows that older adults who run; have a better ability to walk later in life than those who only walk. With this in mind, a treadmill can provide a safe way for seniors to stay active.

1. Better Cardiovascular Health

Both; walking and jogging increase your blood flow, and increased blood flow means that your heart is pumping more blood. Exercising your heart in this fashion leads to improved cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Better Cardiovascular Health

2. Seniors Will Be Happier

It has long been established that exercise is directly related to an uplifted mood. When people exercise, their bodies release endorphins and serotonin, both of which are chemicals released by the brain that improve your mood.

3. It Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight

Walking for just 30 minutes a day will help to burn calories, which leads to the ability to maintain a healthy weight. If seniors can safely jog on a treadmill, there will be further weight-maintenance benefits. Also, Reuters found that walking can reduce cravings for unhealthy sugary foods.

4. It Will Boost Immune System

Exercise in general, including walking or jogging on a treadmill, can boost your immune systems, making your bodies better able to resist illness. This is a massive benefit for us as we get older.

Immune System

5. Walking May Ward Off Cancer

The Cancer Prevention Study II shows that people who walk have a lower risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. This is another great benefit of walking.

6. Treadmills Provide a Safe Place for Exercise

If you’re unable to go out for a walk, a treadmill that is designed for seniors can provide a safe place for exercise. Some treadmills have handrails and can be set to low speeds so that you can get your daily fill of walking without leaving home.

What to Look for in a Safe Treadmill for Seniors

If you are looking for a safe treadmill for seniors, you will find that some treadmills are made with senior safety in mind. They will have high-quality cushioning so that they are not hard on your joints. Also, treadmills with sturdy extended handrails can provide stability for older adults who may need extra support. Look for the following features in treadmills that are safe for seniors:

  • Long handrails
  • Variable cushioning
  • Steep incline
  • Emergency stop cord
  • Easy to use console

What Is a Safe Treadmill Routine for Seniors?

There are many different ways to get the most out of a treadmill, and it is essential to plan a safe workout routine. The routine will vary depending on your age, mobility, and strength.

If you’re currently active and are looking to supplement activity with an in-home option for rainy days. You will want to follow a different routine from someone who is recovering from an injury or who has less stability.

1. Shoes and Clothing

You will want to wear athletic shoes and clothing when you are using your treadmill. Athletic shoes have rubber soles, and they will grip the treadmill and prevent slipping. Make sure that your clothing isn’t too long or loose because you don’t want to get it caught in the tread.

2. How to Start on the Treadmill

It is essential to become familiar with the treadmill before you use it. You need to locate all of the controls, especially the start/stop control and the emergency cord stop. You should be familiar with how to increase or decrease your speed, and how to change the incline.

Start the treadmill at a very slow speed while you are standing next to it, and then grasp the handrails and start walking. Go slowly, and stay at a low speed until you are comfortable with it. You can gradually increase your speed as long as you are comfortable.

3. Should You Let Go of the Handrails?

This will differ for each person. If you usually use a walker or another device to help with stability while you are walking, you may need to hold onto the handrails while you are on the treadmill. You can make this decision with the help of your doctor or physical therapist.

4. It is essential to focus on good posture while you are walking.

This is a great way to build up strength in your core and improve your stability off the treadmill. If you usually walk without assistance, you can walk on the treadmill in the same way you would on the ground. As you practice, it will get easier, and you will improve your balance and stability through this activity.

5. Correct Form on Treadmill

You should always focus on maintaining proper posture and body form on the treadmill. Be sure to stand up straight and tighten your abdominal muscles to engage your core. You should look straight ahead and bring your shoulders back.

You want your arms to swing naturally by your sides opposite your steps. Only let go of the side rails once you’re comfortable and feel safe. See point 3.

As your left leg comes forward, your right arm will come forward, and vice versa.

Workout Routine

Once you are comfortable, start walking at a slower pace to warm up. You should never push yourself to walk faster than you are comfortable. It doesn’t matter how slowly you start. Over time, you will want to work up to a brisk walk by increasing your pace by 0.5 miles per hour in increments.

Once you reach your target pace, continue walking for 10 minutes. The American Heart Association has developed guidelines that recommend that seniors over 65 exercise five days a week for 30 minutes a day. You do not need to complete all 30 minutes in one session, so if you need to split it into two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions, that is okay.

Using the Incline Feature

The incline feature can be beneficial, especially for seniors who are not comfortable walking at a brisk pace. By increasing the incline, you will have a vigorous workout at slower speeds. You can adjust the incline slowly to make sure that you are comfortable with it as you increase it.


Treadmills are safe for the elderly, as long as you take the proper precautions. And use a treadmill that is designed with the safety features that are beneficial to seniors.

It is essential to make sure that you have long enough handrails in case you need them for extra support, and you should always have an emergency stop cord.

There are many benefits to seniors that come with having access to a treadmill. Using the treadmill will help seniors to improve their balance and mobility, and the benefits of daily exercise are widely known. Walking for as few as 30 minutes, five days a week provides many health benefits, and as more studies are done, more benefits are discovered. Most importantly, walking can help seniors to retain mobility and improve their heart health and mood.

There are many ways to use the treadmill for exercise. If you have been inactive and need assistance for stability, it is a good idea to start very slow and use the handrails for support.

The pace can be set as slow as it is needed for safety. Also, the incline feature can be used in place of a brisker pace to increase the cardiovascular workout.

There are many different options available for seniors, and you can work with your doctor or physical therapist to find the best program for your needs.

Being able to exercise when you have reduced mobility, or you lack the means to go outside on your own is an incredible benefit. Treadmills can improve the health and quality of life of seniors, as long as proper precautions are taken to ensure their safety.

References Used in This Article

  1. Walking for health and fitness.
  2. Weight loss without dietary restriction: efficacy of different forms of aerobic exercise.
  3. Exercise and the regulation of Immune Functions.

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