Staying fit after 50 can be tricky, but then attaining fitness and maintaining it needs to be worked at irrespective of age. Today there are more weight loss programmes, affordable pieces of exercise equipment, and fitness routines to choose from than ever before, and yet statistics remind us that, as a country, we have a problem with health caused by obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
Here are 5 really simple steps to get, and stay, fit at 50 and beyond.
- Lift Weights
Weight lifting, and I’m not talking Arnold Schwarzenegger style, is one of the best ways to boost metabolism and slow fat gain. Building strength with weight training is possible at any age, and has numerous benefits for fitness, as well as overall quality of life.
- Walk Regularly
Walking has consistently been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, help keep weight under control, and improve mood in those who maintain a regular walking routine. Any aerobic exercise (cycling, jogging, swimming) is great for maintaining lower levels of body fat and improving flexibility and overall body tone – after the age of 50, walking has some great benefits:
The risk for injury is low.
It requires minimal equipment.
It can be done solo or in a group.
It helps to boost joint and bone health.
Get out and walk in the fresh air for an added benefit, and if you’re able to combine walking with weight training you will have a simple and very effective way to get and stay, in good shape after 50.
- Incorporate some High Intensity Intervals
Interval training is a great way to improve overall fitness. It’s fast and effective, but it can also be challenging. To ensure that you get the benefits of interval training while minimising the risk, start slowly.
For example, if you are out walking, increase your pace for 30 seconds, and then return to your regular pace. Repeat the 30 second burst once every 5 minutes, and continue until you’ve completed five, 30 second bursts.
As the days and weeks go by, you may find that you can jog during the 30 second intervals. The beauty of interval training is that you are in control of the effort and the number of reps. If you are already fit, you could add some high intensity intervals which will kick your training up a notch. Intervals add variety and challenge, but when you start out always pay attention to how your body feels and any warning signs that you may be overdoing it.
- Do some Core Exercises
As we age, become less active, and potentially sit more our core strength will suffer. Poor core strength can lead to a domino effect of other physical aches and pains due to poor body mechanics and poor alignment. Back, hip, knee and neck pain can often be traced back to poor core strength.
The core muscles include more than just the abs, so it’s important to consistently perform a balanced core strength workout. Some of the simplest body weight exercises are great for core strength, such as press ups and planks.
- Eat Enough Protein
Protein is vital for maintaining muscle mass. Protein is the major building block of the body, and because it isn’t stored, it needs to be replenished regularly. Proteins can be either complete (those containing 8 essential amino acids) or incomplete (lacking essential amino acids).
Complete proteins are found in most animal sources such as meat, fish, and eggs while incomplete proteins are generally found in vegetables, fruit, and nuts.
Vegan and strict vegetarian diets can often lead to an inadequate source of proteins which make it more difficult to build, or maintain, muscle.
So the good news is that getting, and staying, fit after 50 is definitely possible, but it requires a consistent amount of movement and a bit of knowledge to get the very most out of your activity – go for it, I can attest to the fact that it will pay dividends in the quality of every aspect of your life!