The Best Home Workout Items For Older Folks, According To A Physical Therapist

It can be difficult to stay on track with exercise in general. For older folks with mobility issues and age-related concerns, incorporating physical activity can be that much tougher. A solid at-home fitness routine can help make workouts accessible and comfortable, regardless of your personal circumstances.

We spoke with physical therapist Chris DeRosa to get his recommendations for the best home workout items for older people. DeRosa co-owns Davis and DeRosa Physical Therapy in Los Angeles and specializes in outpatient orthopedics.

“Workout gear is tough as there are a lot of products on the market and [depending on finances] some are more favorable than others,” DeRosa noted. Luckily, he recommended some effective home fitness products ranging from under $20 to more splurge-worthy options.

And, if you live near a park or a community pool, they are worth an outing, according to DeRosa. “Local parks and rec… sometimes have great senior programs that also allow [older people] to have more interaction with people, which is very important,” DeRosa said. He also recommended water aerobics: It’s “less stressful on joints and again you are in a group setting making it a great social event,” he explained.

Read on for DeRosa’s top picks for home workouts below.

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A set of resistance bands with handles

“Our number one choice is usually resistance bands with handles,” Chris DeRosa, a physical therapist and co-owner of Davis and DeRosa Physical Therapy in Los Angeles explained to HuffPost. “They are cost effective and come in varied resistance so people can use lighter or stronger bands if they feel the exercises [are] too easy or too hard.”

DeRosa recommended this five-pack of bands to start off with.

“Routines with the bands can be used to build upper body strength and lower body strength and of course should never be painful when performing,” he said. “We always like to incorporate functional exercises, like sit to stand from a chair or bed and supported step ups as these are weight-bearing exercises that not only build strength but also help increase bone density [since] our bone density decreases as we age.”


A pair of ankle weights

“Adjustable ankle weights are great for doing upper and lower body exercises and allow you to increase or decrease resistance as needed,” DeRosa explained.

DeRosa recommended this pair of ankle weights, which are each adjustable from one to five pounds. They also have adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable fit. They’re available in multiple colors and with higher weight offerings.


An under-desk elliptical machine

“[The] Cubii elliptical machine is a great way to increase lower body strength, ROM [an exercise technique to improve joint flexibility and mobility] and build some cardiovascular endurance,” DeRosa wrote.

The Cubii elliptical, which DeRosa specifically recommended, is compact, portable and offers adjustable peddling resistance. It fits easily under couches, arm chairs and desk chairs so you can enjoy a low-impact workout while sitting at home. It also has Bluetooth connectivity and an app that tracks your strides, time and more.


Short balance activities, like the ones in this training book

“Falls are one of the most common way seniors injure themselves. Incorporating safe balance training to a program is essential,” said DeRosa. He recommended this book to get started, and also noted that many older folks enjoy chair yoga to improve balance and overall strength.

Looking for more equipment to help you work out at home? Shopping writer Lourdes Avila Uribe is pleased to report that pretty much all of her workout gear fits into a small basket. Shop her picks ahead:


Gaiam yoga mat

Amazon rating: 4.7 out of 5

Sometimes all you need is a fresh new yoga mat to reinvigorate a workout routine. This lovely option from Gaiam is nice and thick with non-slip padding to keep your joints safe and comfortable. It’s available in 40 different color and pattern options.

Promising review: “Bought new mat for yoga class. I order one not realizing how amazing the design is. I LOVE it. It’s stable, durable and comfortable. Added bonus was the design. Completely in love with it.” — Maureen McGuire


A set of resistance bands

Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I swear by my resistance band set. These versatile rubber strips are great for everything from stretching to strength training. This set of five comes with various resistance levels and its own carry bag so you can tuck it away with ease. It’s also great for traveling.

Promising review: “I love the feeling I have after a workout, but I hate going to the gym and I can’t afford serious equipment to exercise at home. These are something small, easy, and affordable that you can start with. I love that they’re small enough to keep anywhere, so I keep them in a drawer in my living room. Sometimes I will take one out and do a few reps while I watch tv.” — J. Mathews


Pilates bar and bands kit

Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Available at varying weights, this pilates stick features a steel rod with sweat-proof, anti-slip foam that is soft and comfy. It also includes two kinds of bands with varying levels of resistance. It’s definitely smaller than having a reformer machine in your home.

Promising review: “Love this pilates bar! Reasonably priced and useful for a variety of exercises that you can find on the instructions sheet that comes with it. Plenty of exercises can also be found online. I love that I can increase or decrease the weight. I bought the 40 and 50 lb version, and I am still learning different ways to use this bar and that is the fun part! Looking forward to learning and using different exercises for different muscle groups. Great for if you work from home. A lot of the exercises imitate some that are done at the gym, so I feel like I am getting a hard enough work-out; but not over – kill, which is perfect for reaching my at home fitness goals! I do the exercises alone or while following along with individuals online. At first, it takes a bit of effort to find all the exercises that you want to learn and do, and re-arranging the parts to accommodate each exercise takes a bit of learning, but the instructions and online tutorials make it easy and less of a headache. Overall — a fun and useful exercise choice!” — Amazonlady


Bala bangles

Amazon rating: 4.1 out of 5

These wrist and ankle weights are an easy way to add a bit of resistance to everything from your daily walk to an at-home yoga or pilates class. They’re available in seven different fun colors and come in one or two-pound options.

Promising review: “Love love love these. I got these to wear during my Barre class. They are the perfect amount of weight, easy to store because they come with their own little bag. I wear these walking as well and they are very comfortable. Can be worn on ankles or wrists.” — Julia Hammermeister


An under-the-desk walking pad

Amazon rating: 3.9 out of 5

If you’ve got a standing desk or a countertop that you use for your work-from-home setup, then consider popping a walking pad underneath. It’s the easiest way to get your steps in without leaving the comfort of home. The slim Walking Pad folds in half and comes with wheels, making storage a breeze. It comes with a remote control, and you can also connect to it via app. It goes up to about 3.7 miles per hour and has two modes: automatic, which allows you to control how fast the belt goes using your feet and your own walking speed, or manual, through which you can set your walking speed using the remote.

Promising review: “Surprisingly happy with this. I wasn’t expecting to use or like this treadmill as much as I do. It actually looks good in my office, and I’ve been using it regularly. It’s much easier to use while working than I expected (I don’t use it on calls because of the noise) – perfect for heads down time. It has helped my back a ton. It’s not fancy, and the app is pretty confusing to set up, but once I got the hang of it I was on cruise control. I also appreciate that it links up with Apple Health so I can see all my steps in one place. Overall super happy with the purchase and it’s already paid for itself if you compare it to a gym membership. Pro-trip – unfold it at night before bed and you’ll be way more likely to walk first thing in the morning instead of sitting down at your desk and getting lost in the work.” — Allison Winston


JumpSport 350/370 Pro mini trampoline

Amazon rating: 4.8 out of 5

Okay, before you tell me that this isn’t good for small spaces, hear me out! I’ve had a mini trampoline in various tiny apartments for years and it’s my absolute favorite way to get some low-impact cardio in. You can unscrew the legs and tuck it under the bed, prop it up against the wall or slide it into the back of a roomy closet. It’s so much fun and such a great low-impact workout that it’s worth the slight hassle.

Promising review: “I’ve had my JumpSport for a month and couldn’t be happier with my purchase! I researched rebounders in depth before choosing this model – it’s solid, stable, and makes no noise when I use it. I have never enjoyed cardio workouts but this is very fun and I have been using it consistently since I received it, which says a lot! Another big benefit for me is my lymph nodes have stopped swelling painfully about a week after I started using it. I have no medical experience but having read about the benefits of rebounding I believe this fixed my issue of 2.5 months (I had already been checked by my doc). It’s also easy to move yet feels 100% stable. I love this rebounder and highly recommend it – it’s worth the money for the health benefits, not to mention the fun!” — Becca


Mini stair stepper with resistance bands

Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

This small but mighty stair stepper provides a full-body workout. It comes with removable training bands and is a great way to get low-impact cardio into your day. It has sturdy, non-slip foot pads and a hydraulic drive system that ensures a smooth stepping motion.

Promising review: “So many pros about this product. To begin with, the product came well packaged and secure. Second, the product was already put together. No screws, tools, or assistance were needed! The only thing I had to do was hook the resistance bands onto the stepper. It also came with an extra battery. I used it for the first time, two days after purchasing it, and it’s a great home-gym piece of equipment. The stepper is easy to carry around, store, and use. On the days I’m unable to make it to the gym, I can use this and it’s resistance bands for a full workout. So far, it’s been a great item, for great price, and great purchase! I’d recommend.” — Paige


Perfect Pushup handles

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

The Perfect Pushup isn’t just for ’90s dads, it’s a great way to work the upper body and more. The handle helps to reduce joint strain and keeps your muscles engaged so you can build strength and definition in your arms, shoulders, chest, back, abs and more.

Promising review: “Very comfortable. Easy to assemble, clean, and use. Relief from plain push-up stands. Healthy, full motion push-ups.” — Krueger


A high-tech jump rope

Amazon rating: 4.4 out of 5

Keep things simple with an old-fashioned jump rope with a twist. It has an LED display that includes a timer, weight, calories and circles. It can precisely count time and display all your stats. It doesn’t get much more low-profile than this!

Promising review: “I’ve always loved jump rope for exercise and with cold and flu season in full effect, I wanted to burn calories at home instead of picking up germs from the gym. This jump rope is a super simple and basic piece of fitness equipment that is pretty much a must-have for anybody with a home gym. It’s also great for beginners and more advanced fitness levels and it’s Just a fun way to train! Jumping rope Burns a lot of calories and I love that this rope can go with you anywhere, it is super portable and doesn’t take up a lot of storage space. This jump rope has ergonomic Handles that are nice hold and I like the lcd screen that tracks my workout stats. The screen shows Timer, Weight, Calories burned and Circles. I can set my weight for more accurate measurements and calories burned. Love it!” — Anna J.


Peleton stationary bicycle

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5

Like the mini trampoline, the cult-fave Peleton bike is also a surprisingly great option for small spaces. It has a compact 4′ x 2′ footprint, an adjustable seat, handlebar and a screen that can tilt to accommodate all heights. It’s definitely a splurge, but you won’t need much more equipment other than this beauty.

Promising review: “I have been a cyclist in the past so was excited about getting a Peloton and knew I would enjoy it, but it is far better than I expected. The bike is exceptionally well built. It is sturdy and comfortable to ride. The classes are so well done and very motivating. The bike has all the tech for you to know everything about your ride and your metrics. I’ve ridden it every day since I got it. I’m hooked!” — R. Gunn


Amazon Basics Neoprene dumbbells set

Amazon rating: 4.8 out of 5

Available in sets of two, three and five pounds or three, five and eight pounds, these dumbbells are all you need to get your upper body nice and strong. Each set comes with an easy-to-assemble storage stand so you can just pop them in a corner or closet without worrying about taking up a large footprint or dealing with a mess.

Promising review: “Highly recommend. This set is perfect if you want multiple weights and you don’t want them cluttering your floor. The holder was easy to put together and so far it’s sturdier than you would think plastic could be.” — Flap and Bnix


A door anchor strap for resistance bands

Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5

This strong and sturdy door strap is the perfect complement to a resistance band workout regime. It features five anchors at different heights that can accommodate different exercises ad people of all heights. This option is a 14-piece set that includes multiple bands.

Promising review: “I am obsessed with this product. I feel like I don’t even need the weight set I ordered now. The strap is good quality and fastens securely around the door. I like that the anchors give you options for both strap and metal loop connections. I love that it comes with both handles and Velcro ankle wrap connections. It is truly a versatile product. I am already benefiting a lot from using it… with increasing muscle mass, flexibility, and decreased pain in my joints. Will recommend to all my friends. Thank you!” — Christina Gonzales


An under-desk elliptical

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5

If you’re more of a cyclist than a walker but don’t want to invest in or take up a ton of living space with a Peleton, this under-the-desk elliptical is just what you need. It’s ergonomic, compact and enables you to get your workout or PT in while sitting comfortably.

Promising review: “I don’t like admitting I’m sedentary person, but it is what it is. I have a heart condition which means low energy and swelling in my feet and legs. What energy I have during the day goes to taking care of my house and yard, not very aerobic. I realize that if I’d become more active I would likely have more energy as it would make my heart stronger. On a whim, I splurged on the Cubii Jr. It was super easy to put together, very well constructed and super smooth and quiet to use. And I am using it! Wow. Right away I noticed a difference in the edema in my feet and legs. It is so easy to use that my goal is to use it a little more each day. I’m up to 3 with 2500-3000 “steps” per day. Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day either! I saw my cardiologist yesterday. She’s familiar with the machine and gave it a thumbs up. I think it would be an excellent starting point for anyone who is exercise shy and a device that you’d continue to use even if you become more active. It’s just so easy to use while checking email, shopping on Amazon, etc, etc. Sometimes I even forget that I’m using it. I’m 79, so don’t let age stop you!” — K.D.


An Ab Roller wheel kit

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5

This durable, quiet and eternally popular ab roller is a great way to build core strength. It’s made with stainless steel, foam-padded handles and a non-slip design so you stay comfortable and safe while stretching your endurance. This set includes two resistance bands, two knee pads, two push-up bar handles, grips and an exercise guide.

Promising review: “This set has a lot in it for a pretty good price. The ab roller can be used in conjunction with the resistance bands to assist beginners that may not be strong enough to use the ab roller by itself. You can definitely perform multiple different exercises with each piece.” — Amazon customer


A tube bands set

Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5

This kit includes five different tube bands, one that provides 10 pounds of resistance, another with 20 pounds, then 30 pounds, 40 pounds and 50 pounds. They’re really versatile and great for toning arms, shoulders, chest, glutes, legs and more.

Promising review: “I bought these bands to do physical therapy exercises and they work great! The handles are comfortable and the bands have great elasticity with resistance. All bands are labeled with weights and the clips make changing the attachments easy. They come stored in a drawstring bag for easy storage.” — DR


Sportneer adjustable ankle weights

Amazon rating: 4.5 out of 5

I love these
adjustable and versatile ankle weights and use them for everything from pilates to power walking, and even for a bit of resistance while on the trampoline. Available in five different colors, they can be customized to weigh one pound each or all the way up to five pounds each, making them a great investment if you want an option that can be adjusted for the kind of exercise you’re doing.

Promising review: “Comfortable. These ankle weights are great you just Velcro them on your legs there’s no sharp edges. They’re soft everywhere easy on and easy off very good I would buy them again.” — Brenda


Vinyl coated kettlebells

Amazon rating: 4.8 out of 5

Made with solid cast iron and a durable vinyl finish, these kettlebells will last a long, long time, making them a great investment. They have a flat bottom for stability and can be used for all kinds of strength-building exercises. They’re available in five pound increments from 5-50 pounds.

Promising review: “When searching for a kettlebell, I went with this more affordable option and so happy I did! It was more affordable than competitors but very nice quality!” — Amanda Peterson

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