Why is fitness over fifty so important? Most of us have heard the saying, “Age is just a number.” Age should not dictate what we do.
Well, fitness over fifty can also be as simple as moving around and having fun.
Fitness does not have to consist of hard, grueling workouts (unless that is what you like to do!). Fitness can be any type of movement, physical activity, or exercise. Even dancing around your house can be considered exercise and working on your fitness.
Age is just a number and fitness over fifty is really just any type of movement that feels good for the body. So, why does fitness over fifty seem so scary?
Why can fitness over fifty be intimidating?
There are probably several things running through your mind right now.
“What if I hurt myself? My knees can’t handle it. I don’t have time. I will feel embarrassed. What if people watch me? What if I do it wrong?”
The list of worries can be so long!
Perhaps there is a preconceived notion that as you age you become more frail, and susceptible to injury and disease. You feel as though you are not that strong any more.
There is some truth to this, but only if you choose to let your health, wellness, and fitness levels decline. You have the ability to prove these thoughts and your worries wrong and rise above the norm. You just have to stay healthy and fit, both physically and mentally.
Nearly 30% of females over 50 do not exercise. If we can show that fitness is not scary or intimidating, we can improve this number. This will improve the health and lives of ourselves and so many other ladies.
Personally, I know that there is fear behind this, just as there is fear when doing anything new. That is why I am reaching out to females over fifty wanting to work on their fitness and overall health.
We are not alone and we are here to help each other.
Maybe knowing all of the positive things associated with exercise can help you develop the confidence and motivation to exercise. Exercising as you age can actually be rewarding, gives you more energy, combats disease, and keeps you happy and healthy.¹
There are many different forms of exercise that may work well for your body and what you like to do. Some exercises you may not be interested in even trying. But none of us will know what we like until we try!
The best thing you can do is to start slowly and find out what you like to do. You should set goals so that you have something to work towards. If needed, schedule a visit with your doctor to ensure there are no contraindications to any type of exercise.
Once we get started on your fitness journey, we will start to notice the positive changes and benefits of exercise.
Benefits of fitness over fifty
Imagine, as you age throughout your fifties and beyond, you continue to stay strong and healthy. You are able to run around the yard with your grandkids, and continue to live a full, independent life.
Maintaining and improving your fitness will help you with all of these things. It will even improve your quality of life, and so much more!¹ ²
Honestly, the list of benefits of exercising, especially as we age is very long. Let’s focus on a few key benefits, especially ones that will make an impact on your day to day life.
Muscular strength, as we all know, allows us to move and power through our day. It gives us the ability to pick up and carry our groceries and squat down to do yard work. We can climb up stairs and go on hikes to see the natural beauty of the world.
Unfortunately, as we age, we easily see a decline in our muscle mass. Starting at the age of 30, we begin to lose between 3-8% of our muscle mass each decade. As we get older this rate of loss of muscle mass continues to increase.³ Strength training, even as an older adult, has been shown to be able to improve muscle size and strength.¹ ³ We can reverse the sign of aging in our muscles! The trick is to perform resistance exercises at least 2 times a week.
Even if you have never done strength training or resistance exercises before, it is not too late to start. Fitness over fifty can be fun.
Balance is another very important thing to consider as we age. Many different things can affect our balance, including a change in vision, side effects of medication. Even inner ear problems, changes in the sensation of our feet, and weakness of our core and legs.
As we age and different parts of our bodies are changing, it makes sense as to why our balance worsens. Research has found that our risk of falling because of a change in our balance steadily increases as we age. This is especially true for females.
The risk of falling increases from 21% of females between the ages of 50-54 years old up to 30% by the time we are 60 years old. And it only continues to increase as we age.⁴
But of course, exercise and overall fitness saves the day again. Balance, and your risk of falling, can be maintained and improved through exercise. Specific balance exercises can be performed, but also strengthening of your core and legs can help to improve your balance.¹ ⁴
Chronic metabolic diseases
Chronic metabolic diseases can also be known as lifestyle diseases. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even some cancers are considered age related, lifestyle diseases.
Exercise, especially strength training and aerobic training can help decrease your risk of diseases. It can also help you recover from some of these diseases?
Exercise helps to regulate blood sugar levels and decreases insulin sensitivity. It strengthens your heart, the ability of your heart to pump blood to your body, and decreases your blood pressure. Many cancers are linked to a sedentary lifestyle, high blood sugar, and cardiovascular disease.⁵
When you stop and think about it, exercise can literally be a form of medication! Fitness over fifty could be all you need.
If you can include a moderate level of aerobic exercise for 30 minutes per day for 5 days of the week along with 2 days of strength training per week, you can create a healthy buffer between yourself and these diseases.¹ ⁵
As we age and go through menopause, our risk of osteoporosis increases. Estrogen deficiency plays a role in this weakening of our bones. The right type of exercise can actually stimulate bone growth and formation.
One of the modifiable risk factors for osteoporosis is lack of exercise or physical activity. An increase in activity, especially through low impact exercise, such as walking and dance or aerobics, along with regular strength training can improve your bone density and reverse osteoporosis.⁶ ⁷
Truthfully, this post could continue to grow as I list all of the benefits of exercise. However, for now, let’s stop there so we can get into the fun stuff, what types of exercises you should consider trying when first starting your fitness journey into your fifties.
Exercises to try in your fifties
Now that we have addressed the fact that, yes fitness in your fifties may be intimidating, but we should not let that stop us due to the many benefits, let’s see what types of exercises we should try.
First and foremost, it is important to do what makes you happy and healthy. Don’t pick out a fitness routine that you dread and don’t look forward to. Pick out something that excites you and gives you a good work out.
But, if you have absolutely no idea what to start with, here are some good exercises to try:
- There are many online classes or apps that you can try in the comfort of your own home.
- Your needs can be met with many different types and modifications.
- Yoga is especially great for your balance, stability, and flexibility.
- High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
- This may sound intimidating. However, this type of training is quick and efficient.
- HIIT has been found to lead to greater improvements in body composition, muscle strength, mobility, and balance when compared to a regular low-moderate-intensity continuous training. This means you get more work done in a shorter amount of time than traditional exercise.⁸
- HIIT is typically structured with a set work to rest ratio. For example, you may perform an exercise or movement for 30 seconds, as hard as you can, and then rest for 30 seconds, repeating for a few rounds.
- Zumba (or other dance class/ aerobics class)
- This is a great and fun way to work on your cardiovascular fitness and even strength and balance!
- You can also follow along with an online class or app in your own home.
- Instructors are always giving modifications so you can be sure to find a level of exercise that fits your needs.
- Resistance exercises
- Whether you have access to weights or if you only have your body to work with, you can easily work on your muscular strength and power.
- Use of weights, whether with resistance bands, free weights, or machines at the gym adds external load to your body. But you can also use your own body weight for exercises within the comfort of your own home.
- Squats, lunges, and push-ups are all examples of exercises that can be done with just your bodyweight!
- Other aerobic exercises
- Besides following along to a dance or aerobics class, you can walk, jog, hike, bike, or swim to work on your aerobic conditioning.
- Start slow and at shorter distances and increase over time as you feel stronger and safe to do so.
If you are just starting out, it may be best to follow specific guidelines to help decide how much you should be exercising each week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that most older adults should participate in at least:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity; or
- 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity; or
- An equivalent combination of each per week.
Older adults should also engage in strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups at least two days a week.
So, are you ready to begin!?
Try out this body weight routine
step ups (on stairs or small box) -10
Plank (as long as you can hold)
Repeat 3 times
This short workout is an example of a good mix of strength and aerobic training. Quick, yet effective. Even quick bouts throughout the day add up to help you meet the daily requirements.
Now, what are you waiting for? As Ruth Soukup would state, “Do it scared.” I will be right there with you.
Share with us your favorite exercise or fitness routine that helped you get over your fears.