They say age is but a number. And we totally agree when it comes to your attitude toward life, your sense of adventure, and your excitement to try new things. But when it comes to your health and fitness — that number becomes important. Not only does your age determine certain screenings you should have, it also influences how your body may handle illness, injury, diet, and exercise.
Check out these frequently asked questions and exercising tips for older adults from the physical fitness experts at MediFit and the Associate Wellness team here at Independence.
What are some exercise and training tips for those aged 50 and older?
You may consider yourself in the best shape of your life or maybe you are starting to feel your age — and the many pains that come with it (back, knees, hips, etc.). The fact is you still have a lot of energy and physical ability at age 50. Here are some exercises for older adults to help improve your health and fitness, as well as to avoid serious degradation:
- Focus on balance training to avoid loss of balance or vertigo (sensation of whirling and spinning)
- Weight training can help both your muscles and bones maintain strength, plus help you avoid osteoporosis or osteopenia
- Increase cardio to improve heart health and reduce blood pressure for those with diabetes and hypertension
- Combine both balance and strength training to help reduce the risk of falls and fracturing bones
Also keep in mind that it’s not all about physical fitness. It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet and mental well-being. Talk with a Nutrition Counselor about the diet that’s best for you, and keep your brain moving with mental exercises, such as puzzles, reading, or playing an instrument.
I haven’t exercised regularly since I was much younger. Is it too late?
It’s never too late! At any age you can improve upon your health or fitness goals. It might not be the same as it would be in your 20s, but gains can still be made towards improving your quality of life.
Use these tips for older adults to gradually add exercise to your daily routine:
- First, talk with your doctor about the level of exercise that would be best for you.
- Begin and end your workout with light stretches with focus on your arms, legs, and mid-back.
- Take brisk walks around the house, at work, in your neighborhood, or at a nearby park.
- Pick up a new hobby that requires you to move (i.e., gardening, aerobics class, yoga).
- Set small goals to increase your endurance and the length of exercises.
I’m busy. If I fit in a regular exercise routine, will I see a real benefit?
If you put in real effort, you will see real results. The biggest benefits of fitness over 50 are improved body strength and muscular endurance, reduced risk of falls and bone fractures, and increased flexibility and mobility to aid daily living and quality of life. Plus, having a healthier and more active lifestyle helps increase your stamina, energy, and productivity at work and in life.
I’m worried some of my medical conditions may prevent me from exercising. What do I do?
Consult with your doctor prior to starting an exercise program, especially if you were recently injured, have a chronic disease like diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, or high blood pressure, or have balance concerns such as vertigo. Once you are ready to join a fitness center or program, also talk with the trainers on staff. They may have you fill out a health history form so they can review your conditions with you and make any adjustments or omissions based on your personal needs and abilities. Stop exercising immediately if you experience any pain, chest discomfort, lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, or dizziness.
Ready to get started? Independence members have access to programs and gym discounts that make getting fit easier and more affordable. Learn more about these popular offerings:
- GlobalFit® Gym Network discount program
- Healthy LifestylesSM Solutions gym reimbursement program
- Silver Sneakers® Fitness Program