“Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed.” - Charles Schultz
With age, there’s a greater risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, you lose muscle mass and your joints wear down. However, in many ways, older people aren’t more fragile than their younger counterparts. It’s inactivity that causes fragility. Generally, it’s a lack of physical activity that causes a lot of the problems that come with ageing.
Still not convinced?
Here are the reasons why you should continue to exercise even into your 50s.
1: Exercising Keeps You Young
Regular exercise can combat osteoporosis, which affects women much more than men. This condition tends to occur during menopause when oestrogen levels drop. This comes with an increased risk of fractures.
Exercising can help strengthen muscles and improve your balance and coordination, which makes falls less likely. Exercising can also decrease cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. You also sleep better when you exercise regularly.
There are a lot of ways for exercising to help keep you younger for longer. You should consider walking, swimming, and cycling to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Don’t hesitate to do activities that improve your flexibility like Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates and gymnastics. These are good for reducing your risk of arthritis and can also tone muscle.
To keep your coordination skills sharp, focus on golf or archery.
Keep in mind that it’s much harder to stay active doing something you don’t like. As long as you’re moving around, it’s good for your health. Gardening, DIY, and even going up and down stairs can be beneficial so consider walking or cycling instead of driving and take the dog out more.
The best way to combat a sedentary lifestyle is by getting up and moving.
2: Live Longer
Even in small doses, exercise can increase your lifespan. A lot of studies have shown the benefits of regular exercise and sport. Mortality decreases amongst those who exercise regularly and eat well.
A study by the CHU in Saint-Etienne of 1,000 over-65s showed that over 13 years, 2 and a half hours of exercise each week reduced short-term mortality by between 30 and 57%.
That’s pretty good motivation, isn’t it?
Remember that the right training will improve your overall fitness and help you manage your weight with exercises that are adapted to you.
3: Reduce the Risk of Conditions that Come with Ageing
Living longer and in better health is great.
Exercising will also reduce the risk of a lot of the conditions that come with ageing like obesity, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and high blood pressure so start exercising today to improve your health!
4: Reduce Cognitive Decline
You can do crosswords to stay sharp, but you can also exercise. Exercising in your 50s has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and even reduce the symptoms of those living with it.
Sport and memory are linked as doing physical activities can make your body produce new neurons. While you mightn't think that certain exercises and workouts only focus on your strength or weight, your brain is involved and while you're physically active, you're often mentally active.
A study has shown that amongst over 75s in hospital, those who regularly exercise have a slower cognitive decline and better quality of life. Exercising can also lead to patients requiring less medication.
5: Improve Your Mental Health
Athletes and doctors will tell you that exercising is good for your mental health.
When you exercise, endorphins and serotonin are released. These are the hormones responsible for good moods. Chemically, these hormones share a structure similar to opioids but don’t worry as they’re produced naturally in the brain. You'll start to enjoy the benefits of them around 30 minutes after exercising.
Even some light exercises as part of your routine throughout the day can come with mental health benefits so rather than intense training sessions and workouts, consider doing shorter regular workouts adapted to your age and walking more often and you'll find yourself feeling better physically and mentally.
6: Women’s Muscles Develop More Quickly in Their 50s
After menopause, women produce less oestrogen and more androgen, which means that women’s muscles will develop more quickly at 50 than at 30.
Good news, isn’t it?
Of course, this doesn't mean that seniors will suddenly become masters of weightlifting after a single workout or that they can do the kind of weight or resistance training that they would have in younger life, but it does mean that the results of their workouts on their muscles can be more apparent after a shorter amount of time.
7: Lead an Active Social Life
Exercising on your own isn’t recommended. After all, there are the risks of falling or injuring yourself and it’s much better to have company anyway. Exercising is more enjoyable when you have someone to do it with and it's a great opportunity to get out of the house, enjoy some fresh air, and meet with other people.
You’ll also be happier and enjoy a more active social life. While this mightn’t be a replacement for medication, exercising is good at combating depression.
Exercising is also good for your mobility and overall health so get up and move around when you can. It’ll also ensure that you can lead a rich life and see your friends and family more often.
What Precautions Should You Take?
Even though the risks are limited, exercising at 50 isn’t the same as exercising at 25 or 30. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor as they’ll be able to give you advice on the types of exercise you should be doing. This is even more important if you have conditions that could affect how you exercise. Certain activities come more highly recommended than others such as non-contact sports, for example.
In general, it’s never too late to start exercising regularly. Even if you’re not as strong as you used to be, you can still get back into exercising in your 50s. Your muscular potential decreases by 30% every decade, but with about six weeks of work, you can get a lot of it back.
Just make sure you take it easy to avoid injury and always warm up first as our bodies tend to be stiffer in our 40s. After exercising, you’ll also need to give yourself time to recover. Recovery also takes longer in your 50s. Make sure you rest and sleep well between exercise sessions.
The more regularly you exercise, the less time your recovery will take. With three exercise sessions each week, you’ll be in good shape, burning fat, and building muscle as long as you exercise properly.
Older adults can do simple fitness workouts while sitting in a chair, especially if they tend to have pain in their leg or back. Try to ensure that your workout is right for you and always listen to what your doctor says.
The benefits of exercising regularly include:
- Sleeping better
- Increased lung capacity
- Improved strength and flexibility
- Less stress and better mood
- More energy
- Less fatigue
- Improved immune system
- Better diet
If you exercise regularly in your 50s, just make sure that you do it safely and follow your doctor’s advice. Your body will thank you!
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.