New Treadmill for Senior Citizen


My father is 83 years old and has a manual treadmill, the doctor has advised him to get a newer model.

My question is, how will a newer model help him, he walks about 20 minutes a day. My main worry is of him falling off the newer electric? models, as he falls kind off often, and I can just see him trying to get off while the machine is still on, or loosing his step and faltering.

Is a newer model safer or do you advise that he stay with his old model

Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question

Qualifications of Mike Behnken

The doctor recommends a new treadmill, it is best to follow his recommendations. You did not mention much about his "manual treadmill."  Assuming it doesn't have a motor and is propelled by his walking, an electric treadmill will offer numerous advantages for him.

The newer models have ramp and speed controls which will allow him to exercise more effectively because they can simulate different terrain he will be walking through on a daily basis whether he's inside or outside. It will also allow him to strengthen more muscles involved with balance which should help prevent future falls.

Obviously at his age, falling should be avoided at all costs. There is very little to worry about with a new treadmill increasing the risk of falling as long as he is educated on the very simple controls of the treadmill before use. As far as preventing falling during use, most new treadmills have a myriad of safety features overviewed below:

Standard Treadmill Safety Features

Treadmill Safety

1. Safety Handles

The first line of defense against accidents on treadmills are the safety handles. All treadmills have safety handles to help maintain balance. They are usually situated towards the front 1/4 of the treadmill but some models have handles that extend out further.

If it is necessary, you can get either the treadmill manufacturer or possibly your doctor/physical therapist to outfit the treadmill with safety handles that extend further out to reduce the risk of falling off.



2. Side Platforms

Electric motorized treadmills have platforms on either side of the treadmill belt which do not move. It is usually second nature for senior citizens and people of all ages to step on the sides and straddle the moving belt when walking/jogging/running gets tough.

With senior citizens it should be instructed so the person has a clear understanding of what to do if they don't feel like walking anymore.



treadmill stop button3. Stop Button

Every electric motorized treadmill has a rather obvious red stop button in case someone wants to either dismount the machine in an emergency or simply wants to end their workout.

The stop button stops the treadmill's belt gradually so the person on it doesn't propel themselves forward into the console.


4. Safety Key / Emergency Stop Cable

Treadmill Safety KeyThe final safety feature of most treadmills is  "safety key" or emergency stop cable that acts as a kill switch anytime the person who is exercising nears the rear end of the treadmill ramp.

A clip attached to a cord or wire is attached to the belt or shirt of the person who is on the treadmill. If the person cannot keep up with the speed of the treadmill ramp, the cable will become taught and pull off the safety key which is usually a magnet attached to the treadmill. Once the magnet becomes detached the motion of the treadmill will immediately come to a halt before the person falls off.




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