Staying Fit After 50: Health and Exercise Strategies for Older Adults
They used to say that 50 is the new 40; now, some say that 50 is the new 30. Whatever your mindset about aging, the truth is you really are only as old as you feel, as evidenced by the increasing number of people in their 70s, 80s, and even 90s who are embracing aging with vigor, running marathons, and even pulling daring stunts like skydiving.
If there’s one common thread among all of the older adults who are aging with finesse, it’s that they’ve remained active, healthy, and fit long into their golden years. Here are a few tips for staying strong and healthy to enjoy a vibrant lifestyle for many years to come.
Combine Different Forms of Exercise for Maximum Results
Many people find a form of fitness that they love, and while it’s tempting to devote all your fitness time to that soul-enriching activity, it’s more beneficial for your health to participate in different forms of exercise. You might run or jog a few days each week, for instance, and engage in strength training exercises two days each week.
As you get older, strength training becomes especially important for runners as it helps to avoid injury, which can be more common for runners in their post-50 years. Strength training is also valuable for bone health and balance, reducing the odds of developing osteoporosis and suffering from falls as you age.
Use a Fitness App to Track Progress
Older adults are more tech-savvy than ever before, so odds are you’re already using a smartphone or tablet for work or personal activities. Health and fitness apps have emerged as powerful tools for people of all ages who are working to gain strength and get fit.
From apps that offer personalized workout routines to calorie-counting apps and even special diet-focused apps for people with diabetes or other chronic health conditions, these apps put a wealth of information at your fingertips. Many enable you to log workouts, running distance, and the foods you eat, and some even track the quantity and quality of your sleep (also crucial for overall well-being).
Speaking of Sleep…
What does sleep have to do with fitness, you ask? It turns out that sleep is just as important for your overall health as physical activity is. In fact, studies demonstrate that a lack of sleep – either in terms of quantity or quality – can make you more likely to experience cognitive decline as you age.
Ample, quality sleep, on the other hand, can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. With regular physical activity also proven to ward off cognitive decline, a commitment to quality sleep coupled with a regular physical fitness routine and a healthy diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals is the surest recipe for health and longevity.
Remember That Any Activity is Better Than No Activity
If you’re already coping with chronic health issues such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, you might find that ramping up your level of physical activity is easier said than done. The important thing to remember is that any activity is better than no activity at all. If running is out of the question, walk instead. If you can’t withstand half an hour of intense cardio, try yoga or Pilates instead.
There are dozens of different forms of physical activity, and the point is to increase your activity level. If you’ve been leading a sedentary lifestyle, start small with a daily walk or even just 15 minutes of yoga or strength-building exercises. As you grow stronger, you’ll find that you’re gradually able to increase your activity level to continue improving your health.
While it’s advisable for any person to consult their physician before beginning a new exercise regimen, this is especially crucial for those over age 50. If you haven’t had a physical, get one before you start. Talk to your doctor about your plans; they may be able to guide you to the activities that would benefit you most, and they can let you know if you have underlying health conditions that restrict your ability to perform any specific type of exercise.
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