“Ageing is just another word for living.” - Cindy Joseph
Fauja Singh, the oldest marathon runner in the world ran until the age of 101 and only started his marathon running at 89! Of course, not everyone can do this, but it shows that it’s not impossible to exercise after the age of 50.
Exercising can keep you in shape and help you to age better. It’s good for your cardiovascular health and can combat osteoporosis, hypertension, and arthritis. So whether you’ve been athletic your whole life or are looking to start exercising in your 50s, both are good ideas.
In this article, we'll look at how older people and seniors can stay fit and the workouts, activities, and classes they could do.
Tips for Choosing the Right Activities for Over-50s
In your 50s, your muscle mass will diminish and your body tends to stiffen so it's important to ensure that any exercise you do works with your physical condition.
You’ll want to avoid bursts of high-intensity activity and focus on longer and less intense activities that work on your cardio or strength. The intensity is more important than the activity you choose so make sure you choose the right one.
If you suffer anything like heart palpitations or an unusual pain (especially in your chest), you should stop immediately.
You will also want to warm up quite a bit. After 30, your body starts to stiffen up and injuries become more likely.
Don’t forget to hydrate as well. As you get older, the sensation of thirst tends to decrease so you must drink water as you exercise, even if you don’t feel that thirsty.
It’s recommended that you exercise every day even if it’s just 30 minutes of walking. Start travelling on foot or by bike as well if you’re not comfortable with full-on sporting activities. You can exercise for around 45 minutes three times a week. If you’ve never really exercised much, you’ll want to progressively build up to it.
As we get older, we tend to gain weight and stiffen up. You must work on your endurance and flexibility. With that in mind, walking, cycling, and swimming are great for your heart. As for your flexibility, Tai Chi, yoga, and aquagym are recommended.
Finally, we recommend sports and exercises that you can do in a group as this will serve to keep you motivated. Exercising and sports are a good way to make friends. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to exercise with others in case of an injury. You don’t want to go mountain biking or walking n the woods on your own.
Remember to always prioritise your health in your workouts. Speak to a doctor to find healthy ways to exercise and remember that staying active each day comes with a lot of benefits and a lower risk of injury than intense training.
Choose Activities According to Your Experience
When choosing the kind of exercise you’ll do, you need to think about your experience and fitness. If you regularly exercised your whole life, you can look at more intensive sports and activities.
However, you also need to be aware that certain activities you did when you were younger may no longer be possible in your 50s and even less likely in your 70s.
In any case, here are a few tips for the kinds of exercises you should avoid:
- Combat sports requiring balance, speed, and strength. Of course, that won’t be true if you’ve done karate since you were a child. However, listen to your body and ask your doctor if you have any concerns.
- Sports with a risk of falling like skiing. You won’t recover from a broken leg as quickly when you’re 65.
- Sports with complex technical gestures. Learning certain techniques become more difficult with age. If you’re learning piano, that’s not a problem, but when it comes to certain sports, getting it wrong could result in an injury.
- Team sports like basketball, rugby, or football, especially once you reach 70. Being in a scrum certainly won’t help, either.
- Watersports like windsurfing and surfing.
- Scuba diving
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of group sports you can enjoy and variations on the above sports that have been adapted for older players like 5-a-side football and rugby and non-contact versions of them. Basketball, for example, can include larger baskets and lighter balls.
If you’re set on doing a sport that isn’t recommended, always ask your doctor first. Depending on your fitness, you might still be able to do it. In every situation, you want to ensure that the sport or activity is suitable for you.
If you’re out of ideas, you can always ask for a professional opinion from a doctor. In some cases, it may be more about the duration and intensity of the activity rather than the activity itself. You also need to consider the equipment that you’ll be using. There’s a higher risk of tendinitis, too.
Choose the Activity According to Your Wants and Needs
A lack of exercise can be detrimental to your health. Regular physical exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, help you to lose weight, and keep you flexible.
Choosing Activities for Your Fitness and Weight
Once you reach 50, it can be difficult to lose weight. In addition to eating healthily, exercise can burn calories. It can also lead to a healthy heart and reduce the chance of diabetes. Here are some of the best exercises for losing weight:
- Walking. You do this almost every day.
- Hiking. This is more physically intensive than just regular walking. We recommend starting with easier hikes with little elevation change, especially if you’ve had problems with your knees.
- Longe-cote. This is like hiking but in the sea. This originated in the north of France and essentially involves hiking up to your hips in the sea.
- Nordic walking. This is like power walking with the help of walking poles.
- Cycling. It’s always a good idea to cycle rather than run if you’ve never really done either. Cycling is much better for your joints.
- Swimming. This is even better than cycling for your joints.
- Running. Start gently by running once or twice a week for 15 minutes. Stop immediately if you have any sharp pains, especially in your chest.
- Aquagym or aquabike. These are both good alternatives to cycling and are good for your cardio. The resistance of the water makes it lower impact and reduces the risks of certain injuries.
Exercises for Working on Your Balance and Flexibility
Flexibility and balance are important, especially in later life.
- Light aerobic sessions with a personal trainer. They tend to avoid jumping and reduce the risk of falls and impacts.
- Yoga. Sessions for seniors tend to avoid some of the more difficult poses.
- Tai Chi
- Pilates can be good for strengthening muscles.
Dancing, particularly styles like ballroom dancing, are good for your heart, memory, and joints.
Keep in mind that exercising is always a good idea as long as you just need to choose the right exercises and ask your doctor if you have any questions. Ideally, you want to work on your heart, flexibility, and joints.
If you need help maintaining a fitness routine, consider working with a private fitness instructor or personal trainer. You can find plenty of them on the Superprof website so start looking today. There are different types of training available so think carefully about what would work best for you, your fitness, your lifestyle, and your budget.
One-on-one coaching sessions can be tailored to you and you'll have the coach's attention every minute of the session. This is particularly useful as it allows you to try exercises that you wouldn't otherwise be able to do yourself safe in the knowledge that the coach is there to stop you from doing it wrong. While often the most costly type of coaching, face-to-face coaching is the most cost-effective.
Group coaching sessions are great for those on a tight budget. They're also a good idea because you'll have other people to spur you on and keep you motivated throughout the session. This is a great way to exercise and socialise at the same time.
Don't forget that a lot of the coaches on Superprof offer the first session for free so try a few of them out before deciding on which one is right for you.