Tips for staying fit after 50
Fitness, it’s often assumed, is a young person’s game.
But staying fit isn’t just something you can do when you’re over 50 – it’s something you absolutely have to do. As you enter middle-age, you have an increased risk of contracting particular illnesses and conditions, from high blood pressure and high cholesterol to back and muscle pains, and even certain types of cancer.
Maintaining a healthy body and mind could help you stave off the effects of some of these age-related afflictions. And staying fit is much easier than you think, if you discover the exercise regime that works for you.
Finding the right exercise for you
There’s no one way to exercise: just as your body is different from another person’s, the fitness routine that suits you will vary too. Your friend, for instance, may swear by her regular workouts on the treadmill at her gym – but that doesn’t mean that approach is right for you as well.
Start by considering your likes and dislikes. Perhaps you don’t enjoy the thought of running or jogging: think instead about sports that incorporate running, like football, squash and tennis. Look for a local five-a-side league with a high percentage of older players, or inquire about squash courts in your local leisure centre. This way, you’ll receive the benefits of running while participating in another activity.
But team sports aren’t your only option. Creative workouts like Zumba – which combines Colombian dance rhythms with aerobic exercise – are especially popular with older women because they’re fun and can be easily enjoyed with friends.
Weight training is also important when you’re over 50. This helps maintain your muscle mass, which you lose as you get older. You may need to consult a fitness trainer when you start weight training, to ensure that you don’t start with weights that are too heavy and accidentally injure yourself. If you’re joining a gym for the first time, many offer a few hours with a personal trainer as standard for new members.
Maintaining a healthy body and mind
When crafting your fitness routine, you need to think about activating your mind as well as your body. Disciplines like Yoga and Pilates engage both mind and body, teaching principles of core stability, coordination and helping to de-clutter your thoughts. Practicing even 10 minutes of Yoga or Pilates every day, in fact, can have a rejuvenating and energising effect. Another way to stimulate your brain is to vary your exercise routine – don’t stick to the same workout every day, and experiment with different sports and pastimes. This will make sure your mind stays engaged, and helps ensure that you don’t get bored.
If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, try looking for like-minded over-50s that want to stay fit too. Charity Silverfit, for instance, was created specifically to motivate over-50s to become active so it could be a great place to start.
You’ll also find plenty of resources online to get your fitness regime off on the right foot. Boots Web MD, for instance, has a range of nutrition advice and exercise tips for women over 50, while the NHS’s online Health and Fitness guide is handily divided by both gender and age range.
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