Being physically active is important no matter what your age. Physical activity can help you control your weight and may lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, as well as other chronic health conditions. It can also improve your flexibility, increase your muscle strength, help you sleep better and ease stress, which not only make you feel better on a day-to-day basis but can lead to improved overall health.
If you’ve been working out most of your life, the best thing you can do as you age is to keep doing what you’ve been doing while paying attention to any signals your body sends you that you may need to make a change to your routine. You’ll also have to learn to accept that you may no longer be able to do what you did in your 20s or 30s when you’re in your 50s, 60s or beyond – but that’s okay.
For those who haven’t been exercising consistently up until now, it’s never too late to start. Being physically active is one of the best things you can do for your health. Here are some things you should keep in mind when working out in your 50s and beyond:
Warm up properly. Muscles get tighter as you age, so spend a little more time warming up before engaging in any activity to loosen muscles, boost circulation and improve mobility.
Do cardio. Raising your heart rate helps to keep your heart healthy. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity most days of the week, such as brisk walking, swimming or dancing. If you can’t get it all in at once, do it in 10-minute intervals. It all adds up.
Add in strength training. Lifting light weights helps improve muscle strength, which diminishes as you age.
Don’t forget to stretch. Maintaining flexibility helps prevent injury and can ease joint pain. Adding in balance exercises at this stage of your life can also help prevent falls, a leading cause of injury in older adults. Tai chi and brisk walking are good options.
Incorporate more movement into your day. Look for ways to add in extra activity whenever you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, play with your grandkids, garden or turn on some music and dance while making dinner.
Listen to your body. Your body at 50 can’t recover quite the way it did at 30, so you may need to step things back a bit. If you feel pain, slow down or take a break. If you feel more tired or winded than you used to in the past, lower the intensity of your workout but mention it to your doctor to make sure there is not an underlying health issue causing your reduced stamina or endurance.