08 July, 2011
How to Get Fit in Your 50s
You can be fit and fabulous at any age, even after 50. In fact, this may be the best time to start a new fitness routine. After the age of 50, the rate of muscle mass loss accelerates to about 1 pound of muscle each year, notes the American Council on Exercise. And when you take charge and get fit, you can counteract this muscle loss. Plus you'll benefit from lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and body weight maintenance.
See a physician before starting any workout routine. Your physician will rule out any condition that may make exercise unsafe. She may also offer safety guidelines for you to follow.
Warm up at least five minutes before working out. This activity prepares the body by increasing body temperature and stimulating blood flow. Warming up consists of activities performed at a slower pace. If you're going to jog, for example, precede the workout with a walk.
Stretch warmed up muscles. Flexibility exercises increase the body's range of motion, improve posture and prevent injury. Stretching should be performed at least two times a week to build and maintain flexibility, suggests the American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM. Examples of stretches include neck stretches, hamstring stretches and upper body stretches. Stretch each muscle to the point of tension, and then hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat stretches two to three more times.
Perform cardiovascular exercises at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. You should be able to talk during moderate-intensity exercise but not able to sing your favorite song, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Examples of moderate exercise include the cycling, jogging and swimming. If you're just starting out, start with five minutes of exercise. Work up to 30 minutes over time.
Strength train at least two times per week with at least 48 hours between sessions. Each session should consist of eight to 10 exercises, focusing on major muscle groups. The ACSM recommends aiming for a weight heavy enough to lift between 10 and 15 repetitions.
Sign up for an exercise class. Group exercise instructors provide you with proper cues and techniques that make your workout in the gym safer. Another bonus, group experiences provide a motivating and supportive environment.
If possible, have a personal trainer design a routine tailored toward your needs. A trainer can also show you proper training techniques that will help you prevent injury.
- American Council on Exercise: Fitness for Older Adults – Frequently Asked Questions
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines
- American Heart Association: Warm Up, Cool Down
- American Council on Exercise: Energize Your Life with Strength Training
- ACSM: Current Comment - Exercise and the Older Adult
- Circulation: Physical Activity and Public Health in Older Adults: Recommendation From the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association
- American Council on Exercise: Flexible Benefits
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images