The elements of healthy ageing

The  elements of healthy ageing

The components of fitness and physical performance which are central to sustained wellbeing amongst older adults are aerobic fitness, muscular strength, balance, flexibility and social wellbeing.  With age, we lose muscle tissue and our muscles become more rigid and less toned, and alongside this, older adults also see a deterioration in balance. Aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching help to maintain and improve strength, cardiovascular health and flexibility and help to counter this natural process, thereby improving quality of life for older adults.


Innerva's range of equipment has been evaluated in numerous studies over the years, most recently in late 2021, at the AWRC (Advanced Wellness Research Centre) based at Sheffield Hallam University, where biomechanical, muscular and physiological responses to power assisted exercise amongst healthy older adults were measured. Results conclusively showed the immediate beneficial physical responses to exercising on Innerva equipment and hence the positive impact on the five elements of healthy ageing, assisting in maintaining and improving the quality of everyday living. 

The most recent study results showed that users of Innerva equipment achieved an average metabolic equivalent of 3-4 METS across a range of Innerva machines during their workout including an initial warm up, through to their main workout and cooldown. In fact, participants achieved up to 8 to 9 METS at some points, with some achieving maximal heart rates (for their age) of up to 130/140 bpm. The interval nature of the Innerva workout allows users to work from low to moderate to high intensity exercise, with harder efforts being equivalent to jogging at a moderate pace or taking part in a vigorous game of tennis! This data is strong evidence that exercising with Innerva equipment will improve aerobic fitness.

01. Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic fitness is the body's ability to transport oxygen to exercising muscles. It is important for everyday activities such as climbing steps, walking and gardening. Improving aerobic fitness has multiple health benefits including decreased risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

02. Muscular Strength

Strength is the body's ability to move against resistance through muscular force. It is important for everyday activities such as carrying shopping, household chores and walking. By maintaining muscular strength, we can prevent the onset of frailty and sustain an independent lifestyle.

03. Balance

Balance is the ability to stay upright and remain stable whilst moving between sitting, standing and walking. Balance is influenced by strength, flexibility and reaction times. Regular exercise is known to improve balance, reducing the risk of falls and injury. 

04. Flexibility

Flexibility is the body's ability to move through a normal range of movement. It is important for everyday activities which require bending and reaching such as gardening and getting up and down from the floor. Good flexibility will decrease the risk of musculoskeletal pain and injury. 

05. Social Wellbeing

Good psychosocial health is important for confidence and a positive outlook on life. Exercise, community activity and social contact are known to boost psychosocial health and reduce the impact of loneliness amongst older adults.

EMG data from the laboratory testing also demonstrated that users were continuously switching on and off their muscles. With a focus on the four major muscle groups – the quadriceps, hamstrings, biceps and triceps; data showed continued activation across the equipment circuit, with muscular effort reaching 70% of maximum capacity. It is essential that older adults maintain function and strength of these major muscle groups to facilitate everyday chores, improve wellbeing and minimise frailty.

The recent study by the AWRC also collected motion analysis data which confirmed that the joints of the arms, trunk and legs were continuously assisted through between 50 to 85 percent of range of motion, which will enable users to improve their ability to reach, turn and bend. The combination of seated and recumbent machines enables users to move between different positions which will optimise agility and flexibility, preventing pain and stiffness amongst older adults.

Naturally improvements in strength and flexibility will also positively impact on balance. A previous study with Oklahoma State University has proven the effectiveness of the Innerva circuit on balance and flexibility, as well as a the more recent Feasibility study undertaken at Sheffield Hallam in 2018, which concluded that performance of balance tasks improves following a programme of power assisted exercise. The data collected at the AWRC recorded various speeds of movement; slow movement will improve postural control whilst the experience of moving quickly will improve reaction times for balance.

Overall, the equipment helps to maintain range and choice of movement due to the multi-directional, whole body combination of movement that the Innerva circuit provides. Users can adjust their own effort according to their exercise goals to achieve multiple benefits including improved aerobic fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

'The five elements of healthy ageing research generates robust evidence that Innerva equipment enables users to engage in a combined aerobic and strength training workout which incorporates whole body movement. The data indicates that high intensity aerobic and muscular efforts were interspersed with low intensity activity to gain the benefits of interval training and enable users to adjust their effort according to their fitness goals and ability. Multiple speed settings combined with multi-directional movement helps users to maintain or improve balance performance.'

Rachel Young, Research Fellow, AWRC

AB Pullover

The Ab Pullover provides a combination of stretching and strengthening which helps to improve shoulder and hip flexibility and strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and back.

Chest & Legs

The Chest & Legs machine assists flexion and extension of all four limbs. The ability to move easily from sitting to standing is important for functional independence and requires strength within the extensor muscles groups. The push down action of the legs will strengthen the thigh and gluteal muscles. The rowing action of the arms will strengthen the arm and shoulder muscles.

Cross Cycle

The Cross Cycle promotes lower limb movement, and flexion and extension of the upper limbs. This exercise will promote strengthening of the thigh and shoulder muscles and improves aerobic fitness.

Flys & Thighs

The Flys & Thighs machine firms inner and outer thighs, helps to strengthen and shape the chest and shoulder areas, and increases mobility in the hip and shoulder joints. The upper body performs an upright fly exercise targeting the pectorals, whilst legs are performing abductor and adductor exercises, helping to strength the hips and thighs.


It is important to cool down gradually at the end of an exercise session. The Relaxer offers vibratory stimulation which promotes relaxation at the end of an exercise session. Several physiological benefits are associated with vibration therapy. Research studies indicate that it can increase bone density, improve standing balance, reduce pain and decrease stiffness. These physiological responses will benefit the symptoms associated with long term conditions and the ageing process.

Seated Climber

The Seated Climber is predominantly a cardiovascular machine which exercises both the upper and lower body, combining a lateral pulldown and shoulder press movement with a leg stepping action. It helps to shape and strengthen the deltoids and larger muscle groups of the upper back, whilst improving posture and increasing cardiovascular fitness.

Side Bend Stepper

The Side Bend Stepper exercises the major muscle groups (both upper and lower extremity), works the heart and lungs helping to raise energy levels and increase oxygen supply to the cells. It also helps to improve coordination.

Tricep Dip & Leg Curl

The Tricep Dip & Leg Curl machine strengthens the muscles of the upper arm and thigh. During the push down phase of the upper limb movement, the triceps muscle will be activated. This muscle is important for reaching activities and pushing up from a low chair. During the pull up phase of the upper limb movement, the biceps muscle is used. This muscle group is very important for lifting and carrying activities.

Tummy Crunch

The Tummy Crunch is a multifunctional machine which exercises the abdominals and lower back, whilst mobilising the hip and knee joints, and gluteal muscles.

Rotary Torso

The Rotary Torso assists with the rotation of the trunk, hips and shoulders. Rotation of the trunk is one of the first movements to decline as part of the ageing process. This is further accelerated in people with neurological changes. Reduced trunk rotation leads to loss of arm swing during walking, reduced balance, back pain and stiffness. The Rotary Torso helps to reverse or minimise these changes.


The Hipster provides a great exercise for the hips, glutes and hamstrings. The machine gently assists alternate hip extension and also enables a gentle lower back exercise. The user should allow the assisted movement to gently stretch the hamstrings, keeping the abdominal muscles switched on to protect the lower back.

Side Flexor

The Side Flexor machine provides a superb exercise targeting the oblique muscles, firming and flattening of the abdominal wall. The internal and external obliques are diagonal muscles which lie underneath the rectus abdominus are targeted. These muscles are responsible for twisting actions. The erector spinae muscles are also used, therefore strengthening the lower back. This unique exercise combination will provide fast results, providing tone and strengthening abdominals.