“We are always the same age inside.” - Gertrude Stein
There are around 12.4 million people over 65 in the UK, which is around 18% of the population or just slightly less than 1 in 5. This percentage is likely to increase over time as we live longer and in better health for longer.
This is great for those looking to exercise, but with that said, there are certain precautions you need to take.
In this article, we'll look at what a typical workout for seniors and older adults is like and the kinds of exercises you can do to improve or maintain your overall health and fitness as you get older.
By the time you reach 50, your muscles and joints will have taken quite a bit of wear and tear. You’re also at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis so you must work on your cardio and flexibility when you exercise.
It’s also important that you choose the right sport or exercises. If you’re going to do something like yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, or some light aerobics, start with some gentle warm-ups.
Warming up is also recommended if you’re going to be doing some cardio.
Warming Up Your Upper Body
It won’t take longer than ten minutes, but you still have to prepare your body for whatever you’re going to put it through.
Start by sitting on a chair with your back straight and turning your head to the left and to the right three times. Next, look upwards as you inhale and downwards as you exhale and also do this three times.
Next, place your hands on your shoulders and rotate your shoulders at the joint ten times one way and then ten times the other. Hold your arms out in front of you with your palms facing upwards. Flex your arm at the elbow ten times.
Now warm up your obliques by bending your body to the right and then to the left with your hands stretched outwards towards the floor ten times. Next, do ten twists by placing one arm on top of the other at shoulder height out in front of you as if you were about to cross your arms.
For your wrists, you want to bring your hands together and move them together in a circle. Ten times in one direction and then ten times in the other.
Warming Up Your Lower Body
For these warm-ups, support yourself with a chair so that you don’t fall over.
Sit on the edge of the chair and warm up your ankles by rolling from the ball of one foot to the heel ten times. Do the same again on the other foot. Sit fully on the chair and stretch your legs out in front of you as you rotate your ankles ten times in one direction and then ten times in the other direction.
Take a short break by lowering your legs. Then stretch them out in front of you. Spread your legs outwards and bring them back in ten times. Lower your legs and then alternate stretching out each leg in front of you. Keep your leg bent and lift it up at the knee before placing your foot on the floor ten times. Open each leg outwards away from the chair and bring it back ten times for each leg.
Warm Up Your Heart and Work on Your Coordination
Whilst seated, stretch out your legs and wiggle them as if you were swimming. Be sure to contract your abs. At the same time, open your arms and bring them together in front of your chest. Count to ten.
Open your legs to either side of the chair. At the same time hold your arms out in front of you as you bring them into your chest. Do this ten times.
During your warm-up, focus on your breathing. Don’t hold your breath and ensure that you breathe regularly and naturally.
Balance is important as it can help improve your mobility and reduce the risk of falls as you get older.
Take it Easy
When you start a new type of exercise, you have to make sure that you don’t overdo it and run the risk of losing interest, which can be especially true for over-50s. For any exercise to be effective, you need to do it regularly.
You need to work out the muscles in your neck, shoulders, back, abs, hips, and knees while also doing cardio training and activities that will improve your flexibility and balance.
It’s better to exercise a little bit every day rather than a long session once a week. Results come with regularity and will reduce the risk of injury when exercising.
Rest Sufficiently Between Sessions
Physical exercise can be quite shocking for your body. To get the most out of it, you need to give your body time to recover.
Make sure you hydrate before, during, and after every workout session. Make sure you get enough sleep, too. Eat right and make sure to give yourself a few days between sessions, especially when you first start doing them, since you run the risk of burning out and feeling sore.
Soreness is normal so just listen to your body as it needs time to recover. You certainly won’t recover as quickly as you did when you were 25. Nevertheless, remember that your body will get used to it and you can progressively increase the number of workout sessions you do each week.
Even if you’re not exercising, that doesn’t mean you need to stop all physical activities. If you’re not particularly active, you’ll probably feel worse between each session.
- Try walking or cycling whenever you can.
- Don’t spend too long sitting each day and try to stand up when you can. Stretch every couple of hours.
- Do the housework. You can sweep, mop, or vacuum and it all can count towards a healthier lifestyle.
- Take the stairs rather than the lift.
- If you have a garden, even better! Gardening is a great exercise.
- Take your dog out for more walks.
You can stay active without working out. While workouts are the most obvious way to improve your health and fitness, don't overdo it. As you've seen, everyday activities like walking can also help keep you active.
Get Help from Coaches
You have three options:
- Attend group lessons for aerobics, stretching, aquagym, Nordic walking, pilates, etc. There’s a lot of choices. You’ll also have an opportunity to meet other people and it’s always easier to find motivation if there are others to spur you on.
- Follow online fitness classes. Again, there’s a lot of choices. You can enjoy free fitness classes online and there are many routines suitable for over-50s. YouTube is a great place to find fitness and workout videos. Of course, before trying any workout routines, we recommend speaking to your doctor first. This is especially true if you’re following workout routines online as there won’t be anyone there to help you if you injure yourself.
- Hire a private fitness coach. If group lessons aren’t your thing, you can always hire a personal trainer to help you through your workouts, which will be tailored to you. They’ll keep your fitness levels in mind. It’s a good idea to have them work with your doctor or physiotherapist to come up with workout routines that are best for you.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the coaches on Superprof. There are thousands of them and they’re ready to train you. There’s bound to be some working in your local area. The average personal trainer in London charges £27 an hour, but you can find coaches for all levels and budgets.
Now you should know a little more about exercising into your 50s and beyond. Just take it easy at first!
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.
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.