“Age is of no importance unless you are a cheese.” - Billie Burke
Age isn’t that important when it comes to exercising. Of course, your physical ability won’t be the same as when you were 30 and you might have to take other conditions into account like arthritis, diabetes, weight, etc., but you can still regularly exercise.
While the majority of those in their 50s still exercise, this number drops amongst those in their 60s, and only a minority of those in their 70s still exercise regularly. However, there are a lot of benefits to exercising, especially when the activities are adapted to your age and ability.
Why not get some help from a personal trainer?
Start by reading our guide to exercising for the over-50s.
In this article, we'll be looking at the best workouts that seniors can do and how they can stay fit into their 50s and beyond. We'll also look at the benefits of training and working out in later life and how you can adapt your workouts and still stay active and healthy.
Appropriate Exercises for the Over 50s
Weights, cardio, stretching, etc. are all great activities for the over 50s. Especially, the over-50s. Our bodies tend to stiffen up and we gain weight more easily, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop exercising.
If you’ve never really done much exercise, you should try and take it easy.
So how can you choose which exercise is right for you?
- You might want to consider moderate-intensity activities like running or low-impact activities like cycling or swimming.
- Make sure that you warm up before any exercise to reduce the risk of injury.
- Make sure you hydrate. As you get older, you tend to feel less thirsty, but you still need to drink 1.5l of water each day.
- Exercise daily. Even if it’s not very intensive, try to regularly walk, do some gardening, take the dog out, and just try to avoid being sedentary.
- Choose activities according to your experience. If you regularly exercised in your youth, you can easily continue into your 50s. There’s less risk of encountering any problems.
- If you were never much of an athlete, you’ll probably want to avoid high-intensity activities and contact sports.
Depending on what you want out of your exercise, you’ll have a few choices:
- To improve your cardio and lose weight, you’ll want to focus on sports like cycling, Nordic walking, hiking, or aquabike.
- To work on your balance and flexibility, you should consider activities like Tai Chi, dancing, yoga, pilates, golf, light aerobic sessions, etc.
We recommend two different activities: one for cardio and one for your flexibility. Be sure to speak to your doctor if you have any questions about the activities you’d like to do.
Even if you feel like you're in good health, the activity you do needs to be adapted to your overall fitness. Don't overdo it and ensure that you prioritise being active for around 30 minutes every day over pushing yourself too hard with strength training or intense cardio.
Why Keep Exercising in Later Life?
Exercising comes with a lot of benefits for your physical and mental well-being and can certainly help keep you feeling young. It’s a great way to stay in shape.
Here are some great reasons to continue exercising into your 50s:
- Fight the effects of premature ageing
- Build muscle and avoid falls
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduce anxiety
- Better sleep
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Avoid or limit arthritis
- Tone muscle
- Increased life expectancy
- Reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes
- Reduce cognitive decline
- Less reliance on medication
- Improved mental health
- Improved social life
- Increased lung capacity
- Less stress and a better mood
- Improved immune system
Exercising is good for your body and mind. Exercise can include anything from practising a sport to looking after the grandchildren. Give it a go and you’ll probably see that you’ve got a taste for it.
How Can Older People Exercise?
So have you decided to give exercise a go?
You have a few options.
You could go to a gym and ask for help from a staff member. In a gym, you can attend classes or get help from a personal trainer.
In personal training sessions with a coach, you’ll be supervised. They can also put together training programmes that are suited to what you want to work on. You’ll work on maintaining your strength and cardio.
In a group class, there’s the benefit that you won’t be alone. You’ll be motivated by the other members of the class. You can also meet new people and bond over a shared interest in your class. There’s a lot on offer. You can spend time working on your flexibility, strength, and cardio.
You can also join clubs for various sports:
- Dancing, yoga, or Tai Chi
You’ll be able to find group sessions for these clubs and they’ll probably organise outings according to their members’ availability.
You can also attend fitness classes via your computer as YouTube is full of video workouts for older people. Nevertheless, you’ll want to be familiar with the exercises you’re doing being you try them unsupervised. Getting it wrong could result in injury.
Finally, you can also get in touch with a private fitness coach using Superprof. We recommend finding a personal trainer who also has experience working with seniors and older athletes.
In this case, they’ll be able to adapt the programme to you and your fitness level. By doing the right exercises, you’ll soon see results.
What Are Workouts for Seniors Like?
Of course, we can’t say exactly what you’ll be doing in each session. It completely depends on the sport or activity that you’re doing. Nevertheless, most workouts will include the following:
- Warming up
- Stretching and cooling down
Warm-ups are essential, especially for those over 50. Your body tends to get stiffer over time. The exercises you do may differ, but you’ll need to warm up your body and your joints and muscles, in particular. We recommend starting with the upper body.
Warming up can also include increasing your heart rate. You can run on the spot or do a few jumping jacks. A complete warm-up can take around 10 minutes.
From there, you’ll move onto the main part of the session which can include cardio, working out, or exercises that focus on flexibility (yoga, for example). This part can last anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes depending on your physical fitness and what you’re doing.
In any case, you’ll progress over time whether you’ve been in good shape your whole life or are exercising for the first time.
At the end of each session, you’ll cool down with some stretches to avoid muscle pain later on. You’ll focus particularly on the muscles used during the session. There are quite a few different ways to do this.
In any case, make sure you stop if you’re in intense pain. It’s normal to feel some slight pain or warmth when stretching, but not any sudden or sharp pains.
So what will you be doing?
Let us know.
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.