20 Exercise Tips for People in Their 50s from 20 Exercise Tips for People in Their 50s

20 Exercise Tips for People in Their 50s

Full Story
20 Exercise Tips for People in Their 50s
iStock

20 Exercise Tips for People in Their 50s

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 the body ages, it is not as responsive to sudden changes, 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.

Warm up and cool down
iStock

Warm up and cool down

Warming up and cooling down are arguably the most enjoyable parts of working out. They are easy and the body feels good. Getting your muscles ready for exercises has proven to improve performance. The body needs to gradually transition from one stage to another for optimum response. You want your heart rate to increase slowly and avoid shock. That will loosen the joints and speed up the blood flow to the muscles.

No static stretching prior to exercising
iStock

No static stretching prior to exercising

Warming up combined with stretching is a good way to prevent possible injuries. People have thought for a long time that stretching before a workout is a good idea. This is true with only dynamic stretching, which literally means that you are moving as you stretch. It’s designed to prepare you for exercising by increasing body temperature and range of motion. Static stretching, on the other hand, is when you stretch without moving. However, when you do that before you’ve exercised, you are risking injury because your muscles are still cold. Pulls and strains are common as a result of this mistake. Studies have proven that static stretching increases your risk of getting hurt.

Breathe right
Shutterstock

Breathe right

There is a right way of breathing, which can very easily be disrupted when you’re tired or stressed, causing you to feel even more exhausted. Breathing is instinct but you can control it. Use your ab muscles and diaphragm to inhale. That’s how you take deep, slow and long breaths, which is the right combination. Add consistency and it becomes a perfect combination. Breathe through your nose because its function is to clean the air from the harmful particles in it. Proper breathing helps active people exercise longer using less effort.

Order of exercises
iStock

Order of exercises

Your training program matters. Just because you can mix it up and substitute one group of exercises for another doesn’t mean you should. How you set up your workout regimen plays a huge role in how long you can exercise. You can train certain muscles with lighter weights, in a way warming them up, before you get to the vigorous routine. Do you start with cardio exercises or go straight to the kettlebells? You have to consider your current form and goals. 

More movement with weightlifting
iStock

More movement with weightlifting

“I prefer exercises that teach people how to move better as opposed to targeting one muscle group at a time,” Chris Leib, a doctor of physical therapy at Movement Professional, says. Movements that require you to sit are not helpful, he adds, because you’ve been sitting all day. “You’re only applying the same pressure on your body” and the idea is to move around and as much as you can. To avoid pain by stressing the same muscles over and over again, incorporate various types of bodyweight training that involve more complex movements.

Add more strength training
iStock

Add more strength training

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.

Walk heel-to-toe
Shutterstock

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.  

Don’t do too much cardio
iStock

Don’t do too much cardio

Running, and other cardio workouts that burn more calories, won’t necessarily lead to fat loss. You need to be able to burn more calories when you’re resting in order to drop the few extra pounds. This can only happen if you build muscles by doing strength training. Ten pounds of muscle will burn 50 calories in a day spent at rest, while 10 pounds of fat would burn only 20. Lifting weight also helps prevent diabetes. Glycogen is stored in muscle tissue and the liver. As we age, we lose muscle mass and glucose disposing tissue.

Exercise outside
Shutterstock

Exercise outside

Get outside and reap the benefits of sunshine. When natural sunlight hits the skin, it triggers the body’s production of Vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin.” It is crucial for overall health and longevity. Vitamin D protects against inflammation, lowers high blood pressure, improves brain function, helps muscles, and may even protect against cancer.

Don’t practicing “wreck-covery”
Shutterstock

Don’t practicing “wreck-covery”

“Many people at the gym train hard but I don't see them putting as much effort into allowing their body to rebuild and repair,” Dustin Bogle, Personal Trainer and Fit Body Boot Camp owner, says. “Recovery almost seems too easy so people don't pay attention until they are mentally and physically exhausted.” You can't ignore it. Recovery is essential for building muscle and burning fat. “If my clients have trouble with sleep, I have them do some foam rolling to activate the parasympathetic system which slows your heart rate and helps you to unwind,” Bogle adds.

Do different squats
iStock

Do different squats

Squats are many people’s favorite exercise for building muscle. They boost your lower body strength. Start easy and use a chair for support if you need. Keep your arms in front of you. Don’t extend your knees past your toes – very important! Stay in this position for a few seconds. Do this for a minute and don’t rush.

And planks
iStock

And planks

Planks, an extremely effective isometric exercise, are great because they use your own bodyweight to maintain the stability of your entire core, which is exactly what the core muscles are supposed to do, and prevent back pain. The key is to master the basic plank as it’s one of the best moves for strengthening your core. Only after you learn how to do it correctly you should make it more complicated. And there are plenty of ways to do so.

Go swimming
iStock

Go swimming

You can kill many birds with one stone (figuratively speaking) if your stone is swimming. It activates every muscle in your body. It’s perfect if you don’t like being sweaty because the water keeps you cool even though your heart rate is rising. You can swim for 20 minutes and enjoy the same health benefits as if you were running for 40-50 minutes. It builds endurance, muscle strength and improves cardiovascular fitness. Swimming is also cheap – all you need is a swimming suit. It can also be a lot of fun if you take your kids you friends with you.

Set small goals
iStock

Set small goals

“People like feeling successful,” Maria A. Bella, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietician and founder of Top Balance Nutrition, says. “It's better to set a goal of losing 5 lbs. per month and then super-exceed that goal than to set a goal of dropping 10 in a week and feel like a failure when losing three. To me, a loss is a loss and that's a success.” This is what is likely to keep you going as well.

Keep changing your routine
Shutterstock

Keep changing your routine

“The best thing to do is to make some change,” Megan Lyons from The Lyons’ Share Wellness says. Go from yoga to running or vice versa. “What feels like backwards changes are also very helpful to jolt the body out of a plateau,” she adds. If you find that you’re hitting a plateau, change one variable at a time and track the changes. Far too often people change everything at once and lose track of variables that may have been working for them in the first place.

Keep walking
Shutterstock

Keep walking

Ask any doctor and he or she will tell you that the body really is meant to move. You can get in shape just by walking. Speed it up every once in a while, add weight a few times a week, or take the stairs. A study from the University of Utah basically proved that people are made to walk. Observing athletes, researchers showed data that walking – not running – was the most efficient way to stay in shape and lose weight while being easiest on your body.

Do side leg raises
Shutterstock

Do 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.

Don’t drink too much water before working out
Shutterstock

Don’t drink too much water before working out

Don’t confuse this advice with a wild card to drink a couple of glasses of water a day. “If you’re thirsty before a workout, drink 16 oz. of water right before you start; may be add some electrolytes,” Maurice Williams, top personal trainer, fitness coach and owner of Move Well Fitness, says. They are helpful in preventing dehydration. “But don’t drink a lot at once because it will make you feel really full, not allowing you an effective workout.” In addition to having to go to the restroom all the time, your kidneys will suffer. They can process about a liter an hour. Making them do more than that can lead to hyponatremia. This is when the level of sodium in the blood is too low.

Carbs, protein or fiber before the gym?
Shutterstock

Carbs, protein or fiber before the gym?

Avoid foods rich on fiber. The body relies on glycogen to keep your blood sugar levels stable and maintain your energy. Thus, you don’t need much fiber. Foods that have a high carb/fiber ratio can irritate the digestive tract, which can become problematic prior to working out, Meghan Doherty, BSN, and nutrition consultant for Madsweat, says. You need sugar (carbs) to exert energy so you can actually train well. 

When to eat before working out?

When to eat before working out?

Eating a nutritious snack about 45 minutes before hitting the gym is OK. That quick meal should include carbs and protein which means berries, yogurt, banana, almond butter. If you’re hungry and choose to eat actual food as opposed to having a protein shake or a smoothie, pick something with good fats and a lot of nutrients. A small snack of 200 calories will do. Anything more than that can cause stomach cramps, pain, or nausea. Your body will be preoccupied with digesting the food instead of getting nutrients to the muscles.

Don’t overdo it
iStock

Don’t overdo it

It is possible to have too much of a good thing, and working out more than what your body can handle is highly detrimental. You are constantly tired and find artificial ways to boost your energy such as coffee and energy drinks. Also, you make yourself a very easy target for injuries. Finally, you start to crave comfort foods, filled with sugary, high carbohydrates, and begin to overeat.