It goes without saying…getting exercise and working out is much different when you’re 50+ years old…compared to when you were in your 20’s. Your body just isn’t the same…and You won’t be able to do the same things — nor should you. But You Need Exercise Now More Than Ever because it’s the key to your independence and a better quality of life with each passing year. Just how exactly do you get the necessary exercise to help stay healthy…without hurting yourself?
Why Exercise Is Good – Losing muscle mass is a natural part of aging…but exercise can help you rebuild it. Muscles also burn more calories than fat, even at rest, which will offset your slowing metabolism. Exercise helps stop, delay, and sometimes improve serious illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis. It can help your brain stay sharp and keep you from falling into a funk.
Exercise Types – We all need different types of exercise. Cardio or aerobic exercise gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe harder, which builds your endurance and burns calories. Strength or weight training keeps your muscles ready for action. Flexibility exercises help you stay limber so you can have a full range of movement and avoid injury. Balance training becomes important after age 50, so you can prevent falls and stay active.
Choose the Right Activities – Lower-impact exercise, with less jumping and pounding, is kinder to your joints. Some activities provide more than one type of exercise, so you’ll get more bang from your workout buck. Definitely pick things that you enjoy doing! Your doctor or physical therapist can suggest ways to adapt sports and exercises, or better alternatives, based on the limitations of any medical conditions you have.
- Walking – Simple yet effective! It builds your stamina, strengthens lower body muscles, and helps fight against bone diseases like osteoporosis. It’s easy to work into your day. You can go solo or make it social. At a moderate pace, you’ll get exercise and still be able to chat with a friend or group.
- Dancing – The style of dance doesn’t matter so much: ballroom, line, square, even dance-based aerobics classes like Zumba and Jazzercise. Dancing helps your endurance, strengthens your muscles, and improves your balance. It burns a lot of calories because it gets you moving in all directions. Research shows learning new moves is really good for your brain, too. Plus, you could be having so much fun, you might not notice you’re doing exercise.
- Cycling – Especially helpful for those of us with stiff or sore joints, because your legs don’t have to support your weight. The action gets your blood moving and builds muscles on both the front and back of your legs and hips. You use your abs for balance and your arms and shoulders to steer. Because there’s resistance, you’re strengthening your bones, too. Specially designed bike frames and saddles can make riding safer and easier for various health issues.
How Much? – If you’re in good health, you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity a week. It’s better when you spread it out over 3 days or more, for a minimum of 10 minutes at a time. Also spend time at least twice a week specifically working the muscles in your legs, hips, back, abs, chest, shoulders, and arms.
Two General Rules:
- the more you exercise, the more benefit you get.
- any exercise is better than no exercise.