Exercise is important no matter what your age, but as you enter your 50s, it becomes even more imperative. Regular physical activity not only helps you stay fit and keeps that middle-age spread at bay, but it can also improve your sense of well-being and even help ward off certain conditions, like osteoporosis. Ask your physician about exercises that will benefit both your body and mind.
Cardiovascular workouts should be done at a moderate to vigorous pace for at least 75 to 150 minutes each week, ideally spread out over most days of the week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These kinds of exercises include dancing, swimming, biking or taking a water aerobics class, which may benefit you if you have joint problems or are new to working out. You should choose an activity that you enjoy and are more likely to stick with, and keep in mind that as long as you are raising your heart rate and working large muscle groups, you are getting an aerobic workout.
Lifting weights is not just for people who want to bulk up. In fact, strength training can help you lose weight and replace fatty tissue with muscle, keeping those excess pounds at bay and revving up your metabolism. You can use weight machines at the gym or free weights at home to perform exercises like lunges, squats, deadlifts, chest flies and weighted crunches. Work your way up to 12 repetitions per exercise, and do not lift a weight that is heavier than your body can handle. Be sure your strength training routine is balanced, to work all of your major muscle groups. Allow 48 hours between weightlifting sessions to allow your muscles to recover.
While cardiovascular activity in itself provides a host of benefits, weight-bearing aerobics can provide even more. These include activities that cause your bones to become actively loaded, which will strengthen them and reduce the loss of bone mass as you move through your 50s and beyond, the University of Maryland Medical Center explains. Weight-bearing cardio activities include jogging, playing tennis, hiking and climbing stairs for at least 10 minutes at a time, and preferably longer. If you have osteoporosis, check with your doctor before doing new exercises and ask him about any limitations on your movements.
Balance and Flexibility
Due to a loss of bone and muscle mass as you get older, it is important to perform exercises that improve both your balance and flexibility. This will help keep you from falling and ensure that you can remain active and independent. Yoga and tai chi are two exercise disciplines that improve both your flexibility and balance, as well as your strength. They can also calm your mind and help you let go of anxiety and stress. You can look for classes geared to your fitness level and goals.