Many people have had a moment in their lives where they see a person who is older than 50 and think “I want to look like that when I’m that age.” Achieving this long-term goal is not as hard as it sounds. As our bodies age, they are not as responsive or swift, and this is just another reason to work out and maintain a certain fitness level.
The older people get, the more health risks they face. This is where keeping an active lifestyle comes in as one of the most important prevention methods. Many studies have shown the benefits senior citizens get by exercising often. It helps avoid falls, strokes and improves memory.
Keeping the same workout routine when you’re in your 50s is unnecessary and sometimes not even recommended. You will likely have to adjust – maybe no more rock climbing for you – but continue doing what you’ve always had fun and what you’ve felt comfortable with.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends four types of trainings for people as they get older – strength, balance, endurance and stretching exercises. People lose body mass with time and that’s why they need to build muscles to increase the metabolism, which helps regulate weight and blood sugar levels. Balance exercises make your legs fitter and that thwarts falls. (More than 300,000 people are hospitalized every year for broken hips and falling is the main cause.) Stretching keeps you flexible so your body can move in many ways. Cardio exercises are very important for your heart health.
People over the age of 50, who don’t have any pre-existing conditions, should aim to be active every day even if it’s not for long. In general, try to do at least 150 minutes a week of walking, cycling or any other type of aerobic exercise. Three days a week of working on you strength (resistance training) is enough to work on legs, back, chest, arms – all major muscle groups.
1. Side Leg Raises
They are a great exercise to strengthen muscles at sides of hips, thighs, lower back and buttocks. Stand up and hold on to a chair, for example, for better balance. You can be laying on the floor as well. Lift one leg out to the side, keep your back straight, and bend the other leg just a little bit for support. As with every exercise, don’t rush. Do all movements slowly. While you’re at it, do back leg raises. The method is the same, except you lift one leg behind you. Don’t lean forward though.
2. Walk heel-to-toe
How you walk is important for which muscles in your body are working and for overall energy efficiency. Walking heel to toe is, for humans, the most efficient way. It takes nearly twice as much energy to walk on your toes than it does to land on your heel. In addition to that, if you walk in the toes-to-heels way, then you’re reducing the amount your Achilles tendon stretches, and your soleus muscles (under the knee to the heel) don’t work as much.