By Lisa Jevens
published in Chicago Tribune, Prime Time senior living
Aging can make exercise a challenge, but there is plenty of gear designed to make working out easier and more comfortable — even more fun. Here are some special workout items from athletic shoes to weights to bikes that will inspire you to get moving, and be more comfortable doing it.
Hybrid recumbent bicycle
A cross between a recumbent and an all-purpose bike, Day 6 brand bikes are made to take the stress off of your back, wrists and hands while riding. These partially recumbent bikes are known for their comfort because you are not hunched forward while riding them. The angle of the upright seat and handle bars allows you to sit in a natural position while still using leverage to climb hills. Day 6 bicycles are quality bikes that come in various frames sizes with eight or 24 speeds. The seat has a pouch for carrying stuff, which makes them as useful for errands as they are for exercise. Prices start at $900 at bicycle stores or day6bicycles.com.
Shoes for plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. KURU Footwear knows all about this condition, and has made shoemaking for those with foot problems into a science. KURU has a line of athletic shoes specially designed for women and men who suffer from plantar fasciitis. The shoes have special orthotic-inspired molded heels that flex inward to keep the fat pad of your foot under your heel where it should be, for natural cushioning. The insoles use foam and your body’s heat to custom mold them to the individual contours of your foot. KURU shoes start at around $100 and can be purchased at kurufootwear.com.
Zip-up ankle brace
The Ankle Genie is designed to give support to the ankle without the difficulty of using a compression stocking or the uncomfortable stiffness of a traditional brace. The Ankle Genie zips up around your ankle and has a Velcro closure that adjusts the size. It can be worn over socks and in shoes, so it is perfect for activities such as golf, tennis, hiking and biking, the manufacturer says. It can also be used to prevent ankle swelling on airplane flights. It is sold for $10 at anklegenie.com and at major retailers.
Weighted flex balls
CanDo is a line of innovative exercise products used by physical therapists, which work well at home or at the gym. The Wate Ball Set contains six color-coded weighted balls that are small enough and flexible enough to fit in one or two hands for light weight lifting benefiting hands, arms, and wrists. Each ball is a different weight, but the same size — 5 inches in diameter. So no matter which one you start with, you can go up in weight and still comfortably hold the ball. Weights range from 1.1 pound to 6.6 pounds. You can also inflate or deflate each ball with a bicycle pump to make it easier to grasp. Available at amazon.com for $52 for a set of six.
Anti-shock trekking poles
Poles make walking easier and you steadier. The Leki Sierra AS Antishock SLS Staff is a multipurpose pole with special features built in. The first is an anti-shock system to reduce stress shock from hitting the ground. The handle has a foam-padded grip, and the tip is hard rubber, which also absorbs shock. The Super Locking System is designed to securely lock the pole’s sections into position when adjusting the length, with a minimum of effort. The aluminum pole expands from 30.7 inches to 57 inches to accommodate various heights. This pole is perfect for birders and photographers, as the handle knob pops off to reveal a camera mount. Available from outdoor outfitters like REI for $80.