Anyone over age 50 understands that their body has changed over the decades. While you might have been able to easily run a mile or lift heavy weights at the age of 20, an advanced age brings with it aches and pains that can make health and fitness difficult.
For this reason, many people simply give up on fitness as they age. While this might lesson the aches and pains, it will only hurt you in the long run. Our health is directly connected to our mobility, flexibility and overall level of activity.
No matter how much harder it might seem now compared to when you were young, it's crucial that you keep exercise a part of your routine.
Here are seven helpful fitness tips for people over 50.
1. Know your health and where you stand
There's a reason why exercise DVDs often include a disclaimer about how you should consult your doctor before engaging in any form of physical activity. While it might have been easy to disregard these disclaimers when you were 30, you put yourself at risk if you don't have a checkup before embarking on a new fitness plan.
See your doctor and have a conversation about where you stand in relation to your health and what exercises are safe for you to do. If you have any chronic pain or soreness, talk about it and find ways you can exercise without causing additional damage to these problem areas.
2. Start small
Too many people give themselves goals that might be admirable, but are too ambitious to be realistic. If you're a couch potato who hasn't walked more than a block in a few years, it's unlikely that you'll be ready to run a marathon within a month or two.
While it's good to set goals for yourself, keep them realistic. If you're that aforementioned coach potato, creating a goal of walking 30 minutes a day three times a week is perfect. Medical researchers at Harvard University found that regularly walking can prevent seniors from losing their mobility.
If you're currently in poor shape, you'll be amazed at what adding some simple walking for brief periods of time into your routine can do for your overall health.
3. Don't neglect strength training
When people think of "strength training," they often picture muscular gym rats lifting insanely heavy weights. However, strength training doesn't just refer to bodybuilding. Strength training can be as simple as lifting very light weights for a few reps to gently tone and strengthen your muscles.
Strength training regularly will help to prevent age-related issues like osteoporosis, muscle atrophy or weakened mobility. You don't have to lift heavy weights to see the benefits of strength training.
A few movements with light weights each morning can make a world of difference. You can also incorporate simple moves that utilize the weight of your own body, such as push-ups or squats.
4. Be cautious when it comes to sprints and jumps
People over 50 have an increased risk of damaging their joints during exercise, particularly their knees. Of course, no two people are identical when it comes to health and fitness ability. If you're fit for your age already, you might be able to incorporate sprints and jumps into your routine without risking injury.
If you're not, these high intensity movements can set you up for joint issues. Remember to always talk with your doctor if you're unsure as to whether or not a specific exercise is right for you.
You CAN build muscle after 50 according to Diet Fitness King, but you need to be careful.
5. Be a social creature
As we age, it becomes harder and harder to make new friends, since we don't go on as many social outings as we did when we were younger. Furthermore, working out alone day after day can cause us to lose motivation, as there's no one to cheer us on or encourage us to keep going.
This is why social exercise is such a great idea. This can be as simple as going for hikes with friends or joining teams at the local rec center designed for people in your age bracket. When we exercise with other people, we stay motivated and strengthen our social circles.
6. Don't neglect flexibility
We naturally begin to lose flexibility as we age. Many of us don't care either way, as we're not planning on doing the splits anytime soon.
However, flexibility isn't just about doing cool poses. Instead, it's about helping us to stay mobile and avoid injury. The National Institute of Health encourages older people and seniors to incorporate a few flexibility moves into their daily routines.
7. Watch your diet, even if you're not trying to lose weight
If your days of trying to maintain an attractive figure for vanity reasons are long behind you, you might not put too much thought into your daily diet. However, we are what we eat as the old saying goes. And a poor diet can make physical fitness and overall good health impossible according to the Center For Science In The Public Interest.
You don't have to start counting every calorie in an effort to stay trim, but reduce or eliminate sugary junk food as much as possible. Emphasize fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats like olive oil or nuts in your diet. Not only will these foods help to fuel your active lifestyle, but they're essential for heart health and longevity.
Exercise keeps you well
None of us want to be tired old people who can barely make it up the stairs. We all strive to be fit and well for as long as we're on this earth. If you follow these tips, you can eschew the poor health that typically comes with advanced age in favor of being one of those fit and healthy seniors that everyone admires and strives to be like.