If you are over 50, it is more important than ever to make exercise part of your daily routine. Consistently working out can ensure that you stay active and healthy through your 60s, 70s, and beyond.
Why Exercise Matters
Muscle mass declines with age, a condition technically known as sarcopenia. The consequence of this muscle loss has a domino effect on every aspect of your health and quality of life. However, research indicates that regular exercise can prevent, delay, and sometimes even improve many conditions associated with aging, like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis. It’s also been shown to help with depression and diminishing cognitive function.
How Often Should You Work Out?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should strive to get:
- 150 minutes a week (e.g., 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking
- 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, like hiking, jogging, or running
- Two days a week of resistance training to strengthen muscles; and
- Activities to improve balance, such as standing on one foot
Start Where You Are
Whether it’s walking, hiking, swimming, cycling, dancing, golf, tennis, yoga, or weight training, do what you enjoy. Know your current limitations and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as you gain strength and stamina. Adding the following tips can also help keep you motivated:
Plan for it. Schedule your weekly workouts. Lay out your gear the night before and set the alarm. DO NOT hit the snooze button! Get up and go.
Hit the gym. Joining a gym offers the opportunity to establish a community of friends who have made exercising a habit. In addition, gyms have a wide variety of equipment, which includes free weights and resistance machines, as well as aerobic equipment and classes.
Hire a trainer. All forms of exercise, whether aerobic or weight resistance, can be dangerous when executed improperly. Working with a trainer, even temporarily, helps you learn the correct way to handle weights and resistance machines.
Ready to get off the couch and start moving? Here are a few exercises to kickstart your newfound exercise habit:
Planks: From a full push-up position with your legs straight and your toes on the mat, bend your arms and put your forearms on the mat with your hands clasped. Fully engage your core and hold the position for 30 seconds. Work up to 60 seconds or more.
Seated Dumbbell Biceps Curls: Seated on a chair or bench with your back straight, hold dumbbells with your palms facing inward. With your elbows at your sides, turn your palms up and slowly raise the dumbbells toward your shoulders. Slowly lower to the starting position. Complete three sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Bodyweight Bench Squats: Stand in front of a chair or bench with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms straight out in front. Look directly ahead, bend your knees and lower yourself to a sitting position on the bench. Return to a standing position. Complete three sets of 10–12 reps.
- Avoid exercises that put a strain on the knees.
- Don’t lift weights that are too heavy for your strength level.
- Stay hydrated.
- Wear proper shoes and other safety gear related to the activity.
- If something doesn’t feel right, stop.
- Stretch after your workouts—never stretch a cold muscle.