Keeping fit is beneficial at any age, but exercising over 50 is essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you grow older. Here are just some of the benefits of working up a sweat:
- It keeps your mind sharp. Regular exercise over the age of 50 improves cognitive function, including memory.
- It improves your mental health. Far from just having physical benefits, taking the time to exercise can significantly improve your overall well-being too, with the NHS noting that exercise can help those with mild depression.
- It can help maintain muscle mass. Incorporating strength training into your exercise regime is key to slowing down the loss of muscle mass that comes with aging. Keeping active is also important for your bones, as maintaining bone density can reduce the risk of falls.
- It may reduce your risk of certain illnesses. The risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes developing can be reduced by regular physical activity.
What is the best exercise for the over 50s?
One type of exercise isn’t better than another for people over 50. People’s bodies change as they age, so the type of exercise that suits them will also change.
Hayley Fishwick believes that it is important to maintain a balance in all aspects of life and to be overall strong and fit.
The type of exercise someone does when they turn 50 will depend on their previous experience with working out and the condition of their body.
In his explanation, Fishwick emphasizes the importance of functional exercises; these are movements that are replicated in daily life, such as sitting to standing, or step-ups. He also highlights the importance of exercises that challenge balance, as well as strengthening the back and core muscles, in order to avoid injury when lifting objects.
Fishwick states that our cardiovascular system, made up of the heart and lungs, is important in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This may help prevent type 2 diabetes, which becomes more of a risk as we age.
’ This text is about the importance of mobility and flexibility, especially as we age, in order to remain pain-free.
It’s important to do exercises with the right form, so you don’t get injured.
Fishwick states that injuries can lead to a sedentary lifestyle in the long term due to chronic pain. This is more challenging as we age.
To me, an exercise is perfected when a client feels in control and is able to move without pain. They should also be able to execute perfect form using bodyweight or a weight that they could perform around eight reps with at around 80% effort.
Fishwick argues that, although there may be some medical reasons that people over 50 cannot do particular exercises, there are usually ways to get around these issues. He advises talking to a medical practitioner or personal trainer for guidance.
9 best exercises for over 50s to lose weight or build strength
Although it may be more difficult, it is still possible to lose weight if you are over the age of 50. Our metabolisms tend to slow down as we age, and menopause can often times lead to weight gain, particularly around the waist. However, many older people have been successful in losing weight. Most agree that the solution is relatively simple: eat less and exercise more. However, some exercises are more effective than others.
The general consensus is that the best results come from a well-rounded exercise plan that includes both cardiovascular activities that get your heart rate up, such as running or brisk walking, and resistance training. However, as with any new exercise routine, it is always advisable to check with your GP first, especially if you have any existing medical conditions.
The goal for many users of Gransnet is to walk 10,000 steps per day. Obviously, simply strolling isn’t going to be as beneficial as taking a brisk walk, so to really get the most out of it you should aim to get your heart rate up and break a light sweat. The great thing about walking is that, no matter where you live – in the city or in the countryside – there will always be somewhere nearby to explore. Plus, it’s free, so the pros of this exercise really do outweigh the cons.
Running gives you lots of benefits for your physical and mental health, like reducing your risk of heart disease and making you feel less stressed. You can make your running routine work for you, depending on what you like, like running outside or in a gym, and how fast and far you want to go.
Pilates is a great workout for your core, and can also help alleviate back and joint pain, as well as improve posture. It’s become especially popular among those over 50 in recent years, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Tai Chi is a wonderfully relaxing exercise with numerous health benefits, both physical and mental. Many women over 50 love this low-impact activity which is easy on muscles and can help with mobility and flexibility. You can find a Tai Chi class for beginners near you in our guide to Tai Chi for over 50s.
Research suggests that yoga has a multitude of health benefits, including preventing high blood pressure and heart disease, and alleviating aches and pains. It is also a great way to unwind after a tough day, due to its stress-busting properties.
Even if you’re not looking to bulk up, strength training is still a critical type of exercise to maintain muscle mass as we age. You can use weight machines at the gym, or try lighter dumbbells for a at-home workout. If you want to make sure you’re doing the most effective exercises, it might be a good idea to book a session with a personal trainer. This way you can avoid any injuries that might occur from incorrect form.
Zumba or dance-based exercise classes
ZumbaGold classes are designed specifically for people who are 50 or older, and offer low-impact exercises with all the same benefits as the original version.
It is important to keep your exercise routine varied, so you should include a couple of HIIT workouts each week.
The many benefits of HIIT workout sessions were explained by Eastwood. These sessions, which involve plyometrics exercises ( In essence, jumping exercises) help to build strong bones by increasing calcium deposits. Furthermore, since HIIT is a cardio workout, it is good for building a healthy and strong heart and lung capacity. Additionally, HIIT helps to burn calories throughout the day – and also leads to an increase in muscle mass.
According to Eastwood, the power moves are necessary in order to keep your muscles active and by making them work hard, you are able to create new muscle mass.
“The exercises are great for stimulating the brain and making you feel good,” she says.
Swimming and cycling
At any stage of life, it’s always important to pay attention to your body and how it’s responding to exercise. So if you find that you’re suffering from joint pain once you enter your 50s, it could mean you need to modify your workout routine.
If you are worried about pain in your joints, Robbins advises trying low-impact cardiovascular activities such as swimming and cycling.
According to Robbins, light cardio training has various benefits such as maintaining heart and lung health, lowering blood pressure, and boosting mood. It can also be enjoyable and sociable as it gives people an opportunity to participate in group activities.
If you want to workout in your own home, you can get exercise bikes or elliptical machines.
The best exercise for over 50s: What to avoid
Hayley highlights the importance of taking into account individual preferences when choosing an exercise routine for people over 50.
Fishwick emphasizes the importance of adapting exercises to be less impactful on the knees as we age, as our joints may not be as robust as they once were.
This means exercising with less impact, such as not jumping during a squat jump, and instead doing a regular bodyweight squat.
Even if you’re not very active, there are still some exercises you can do to improve your posture. For example, Lucinda Meade, a physiotherapist at TwentyTwo Training, suggests standing with your arms at a 90-degree angle from your body, with your shoulders horizontal. Spin from left to right up to 21 times. If you’re already struggling with your posture, don’t try this without help. Another option is to practice standing on one leg and doing bird/dog pose to improve trunk stability.
You should think carefully before signing up for a marathon if you have not done much running before. Eastwood warns that “long runs will stress our bodies,” raising cortisol levels, putting a lot of stress on our joints from the repeated impact, and reducing muscle mass.
Try sticking to shorter distances, or, as Eastwood suggests, ‘fast walking can be more beneficial in the long run and less aging.’
You shouldn’t lift heavy weights unless you know how to do it properly. If you don’t, it can have negative effects.
Eastwood is saying that if you train too hard before your muscles and skeleton are ready, you could get injured and have to set back your training.
Also, if you have high blood pressure, you should be careful when you lift heavy weights.
Pushing yourself too hard
This is why balance is so important, according to Eastwood. Without the appropriate muscles and ligaments, too much stress on our joints can do serious damage as we age. It’s vital to listen to our bodies and change our activity level based on what they are telling us.
The same old routine
It is important to have variety in your exercise routine no matter your age. This means switching up the types of exercise you do if you have been doing the same thing every day. For example, if you enjoy swimming, you should also add weight-bearing exercise to your routine to keep your bones strong.
Fear of exercise
Meade explains that we should not be afraid of starting a new program of exercise over 50. He says that our bodies are strong and they heal, and that the important thing is to prepare your body and be aware of your limitations.
Exercising over 50: Expert tips
Be sure to move every hour
According to Meade, it is important to avoid long periods of inactivity because it cancels out an hour in the gym. When you are inactive for long periods of time, your muscles start to break down and release fats into your bloodstream.
You should be active throughout the day to stay healthy. For example, if you’ve been sitting for a while, stand up and walk around. A fitness watch like the Apple Watch can help by reminding you to stand up every hour.
It’s important to breathe properly while working out. According to Meade, not breathing or shallow breathing can negatively affect your mood and make it harder to exercise effectively. The key is to take long, slow, deep breaths.
Mix things up
Try to vary the type of exercise you do throughout the week so you don’t get bored. Meade says that exercise is important for longevity because it protects your cells and reduces chronic inflammation, which is a key part of aging.
Look after your knees
Knee injuries are one of the most problematic injuries to occur during exercise.
Meade advises runners to be careful of stress on their joints by making sure they don’t fall in or out. Some people’s natural biomechanics may mean that running is not a good option for them. If in doubt, runners should get their knees checked out by a professional.
According to Robbins, substituting squats for glute bridges can help to ease strain on the knee and hip joints while still engaging the same muscle groups.
How to incorporate exercise into your everyday routine
Gardening is a great way to get active without feeling like you’re working out. You’ll get fresh air and vitamin D, and your outdoor space will be weed-free and beautiful all year. Just be careful not to bend over too much and damage your back.
Although it may be tiring, looking after the grandkids is beneficial for both the caregiver and the child. It is a great way to get exercise for both the mind and the body.
Walking the dog
If you’re not motivated to walk for yourself, do it for your dog’s sake. Taking a longer walk, changing up your route, or playing fetch at the park are all great ways to add some extra steps. Every little bit counts!