Are you an older person who hunches way forward, leaning into the stair stepper machine, supporting your body weight with your arms?

Look at the older man in the photo. You don’t have to be a chiropractor to clearly see that this is bad for the back.

Look at how his upper back pokes out. Look at his neck, relative to the spinal column. This can’t be good on the shoulders, either.

If a senior aged person’s objective is to improve any component of their body, then leaning over and into the stair stepping machine will not get them to their goal.

Though I’m a personal trainer, I don’t even have to draw upon fitness expertise to see what goes on when a person, especially a senior, slumps forward into the stair stepping equipment. Come on, look again at the image.

I see this huge mistake all the time at the gym, and it’s not just seniors committing it.

Many people in their 20s and 30s lean into cardio equipment, supporting their body weight on their forearms, butt sticking out. This is very impractical and has no carry-over to real life movement.

When you walk up a flight of stairs, even if your hands are on the rails, your body is erect, for the most part. It certainly isn’t as slumped forward as the man is showing in the photo.

There are several reasons why an older person may want to use a stair stepping machine.

One is to improve cardiovascular fitness, in combination with a preference for this type of cardio equipment over a treadmill or stationary bike.

Another is to just be fitter and have more energy, which overlaps with the first reason.

Of course, weight loss is a common goal. Other goals include lowering blood pressure and improving glucose metabolism.

Regardless of the reason, leaning into the machine and supporting one’s body weight with the arms is a very inefficient, non-efficacious way to exercise—even if you’re of senior age.

Stand straight on the machine, as you would if you were walking down your street.

Just stand straight. If you can’t do the stepping unless you’re leaned into the machine with your butt sticking out and using your arms for support…then you have the steps moving too fast and/or the tension is too rough.

Set the speed slower so that you can stay upright; upright spine, good alignment with your neck to your vertebral column: an erect posture, not a folded-in posture. Reduce the stepping tension.

Adjust the machine to a good-postured body, rather than maim your body’s posture to adjust to difficult settings on the machine.

Maintaining the best posture possible is of utmost importance to seniors when they do cardio exercise.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.