How to get fit over 50
People who are north of 50 can sometimes face a unique dilemma when they decide they want to make lifestyle changes and become more fit. Gyms can seem geared toward a younger demographic, many of whom are already fit and are simply aiming to maintain their weight or bulk up. It can be intimidating to roll in and see nothing but hard bodies killing it on machines that look way too advanced for someone your age with you slumping midlife energy level.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for the 50+ set who want to take control of their health by losing weight and getting fit. It’s never too late to start, and the benefits are so worth the effort! Living a longer life is a great reason to lace up those running shoes and wiggle into those yoga pants! In addition to potentially adding years to your life, getting fit can:1
- reduce your risk of coronary artery disease
- reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- increase your bone density
- reduce your risk of osteoporosis
- improve your cardiovascular health
- increase your strength and power
- improve your posture and flexibility
- reduce your risk of falling
- help you manage your arthritis
Going to the gym might be right up your alley, and if so, go for it! But getting fit shouldn’t be intimidating, so if the gym isn’t the right place for you there are still other great and effective ways to get fit.
Start by making small changes that you can stick to. Committing to going for a daily 30-minute walk for a month is probably better than deciding to start training for a marathon, for example – especially if you’re used to getting very little exercise at all. Once you get into the swing of things, increase your time and speed and vary your activities so you don’t get bored.
You should always check with your doctor before starting any new fitness program, particularly if you have been sedentary or have pre-existing health concerns. Your doctor can give you guidance on what exercises are beneficial for you, and which ones you should avoid.
If you have the all clear from your doctor, consider these exercises and tips:
You are more prone to injury as you age, so start slow by riding a stationary bike or walking comfortably for 5 or 10 minutes to get your body temperature up a bit before moving into more vigorous activities.4
Walking is one of the easiest ways to get exercise at any age because basically all you need are proper shoes. Studies have shown that walking 2.5 hours per week (30 minutes, 5 days a week) cuts the risk of developing cardiovascular and coronary heart disease by a whopping 50%.2 Check out our article on mall walking for information on a great way to get your steps, and visit The Walking Site for beginning a fitness walking program.
Don’t neglect your muscles
Strength training is an important component of a fitness program because we lose muscle mass as we age. According to Healthy Midlife3, a good fitness plan should incorporate a solid muscle-strengthening component, so at least two days a week you should do muscle strengthening activities that target all or most of the following major muscle groups: legs, hips back, chest, stomach, shoulder and arms. Check out Real Simple and Peak Fitness for more information on adding strength training to your fitness routine.
Be held accountable
Tell your friends and family what you’re doing and what your goals are. They can help you stick to your plan – and you may even encourage some of them to join you! There is strength in numbers, after all, and having a fitness partner is a great way to keep each other motivated.
Keep a journal
Keeping a record of your fitness program allows you to track your progress and really see what’s working for you and what isn’t. Seeing that you’ve met milestones and goals is a great way to keep you motivated.
Most importantly, celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and applaud yourself for being committed to living a longer, healthier life. For more tips and information on getting fit after 50, check out our article for easy routines to help you stay fit during midlife and beyond.
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