A lot of people who are trying to get into fitness over 50 might feel like it’s impossible to get back into an exercise routine, but it’s easier than you would think.
As our bodies get older, they require more care and attention, so adding some physical activity to your weekly routine can pay huge dividends at your next checkup. You just have to start small and work your way up.
How Much Physical Activity You Need
Before you bust out the sweatbands and the weights, you need to set some goals for your fitness level.
The Department of Health and Human Services says you need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Those 150 minutes can be broken up in any way that’s convenient for you, but it comes out to essentially 30 minutes a day five days a week.
The department also says at least two days per week you should do some muscle-strengthening activity. That doesn’t mean you have to max out your bench press or anything. You just need to make your muscles work a little harder than they would on a normal day.
You just need to make sure you’re moving more and sitting less. The more you get up and move, the more health benefits you’ll see.
The Benefits of Fitness
Leading a less sedentary lifestyle can help improve many facets of your life. Getting regular exercise will help you maintain your independence well into your later years.
Hitting that weekly activity goal can help fight off things like heart disease and diabetes. Getting your blood pumping like that will help keep your immune system from becoming compromised.
Just getting up and walking for 30 minutes a day instead of staying seated can help exercise your mind as well as your body. Getting your blood pumping faster than usual will get more blood up to your brain, which means you’re getting more oxygen to your noodle. That makes for a healthier brain.
Regular exercise can also help decrease your risk of falls. Even light exercise will strengthen your muscles and flexibility. Having stronger core muscles will help you maintain your balance. Being able to stay balanced could help prevent you from being one of the 800,000 people who end up in the hospital every year.
Starting to Exercise at 50
Getting into fitness over 50 is largely a mindset you’ll have to get into. That’s the hardest part. You’re going to set yourself up for success if you:
- Figure out what motivates you – defining why you’re working out will push you during times you don’t feel like doing it.
- Start slowly – jumping right into it too hardcore can make you feel overwhelmed or end up overworking your body.
- Try out a variety of exercises – you might end up liking certain exercises more than others, so doing ones you enjoy can help you meet your goals.
If you’re just getting started, walking for 30 minutes every day is a great jumping-off point. You can break that up into several five or 10-minute sessions done throughout the day and work your way up to doing the whole 30-minute block at once. Depending on your fitness level, you may be able to bump up to jogging or running.
When it comes to strength training, you’ve got several options. You don’t need to get a gym membership, either.
Start by doing some bodyweight exercises. That could be something as simple as sitting down in a sturdy chair and then standing back up several times.
When you’re ready to increase the intensity, you can move on to using exercise bands or some smaller free weights. As long as your muscles are working harder than they normally would, you’ll be getting the benefits.
For Those Already Fit
If you’re already at a point where you would consider yourself fit, congratulations! It’s not easy maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so you’re probably noticing you’re a little more able than some of your friends of the same or similar age. You might even be able to hold your own against people who are much younger.
To keep up with that type of fitness, make sure you’re mixing up the types of workouts you’re doing. Your body will get used to doing one type of routine, so it’s good to change things up every now and then to keep your body guessing.
One of the most important things you’ll need to remember is not to overdo it. While you might be in great shape, your body will still be slowing down a little. Doing too much could result in an injury, which might end up in a prolonged recovery and diminish your fitness level. Listen to your body, and don’t push it too far.
You’re Becoming Mighty!
Working your way to a healthier lifestyle could end up adding more years to your life, and you’ll be able to maintain your independence, too. Starting to exercise at 50 or even 60 and beyond can make you feel better, help your body’s immune system, and give you another social outlet.
Before you start a new routine, make sure you’re taking your current fitness level into account and talking with your doctor about your plans. They’ll be able to give you the go-ahead or help you mold that routine around any conditions they might be helping you work through on your road to Better Health.