5 Steps to Keeping Fit Over 50

OK, so you’ve realised that there’s no such thing as “over the hill”, right? That concept exists entirely in our heads. In fact, ageism in general is a societal construct that negatively affects us all, sooner or later*. Now that we have that out of the way, we can talk about how to keep fit when you’re not as young as you once were.

  1. Benefits to fitness

You might have found yourself slowing things down, foregoing vigorous exercise for something gentler, and while you do need to adapt, there’s no reason to stop completely. Quite the opposite actually, exercise helps to improve sleep, boosts your mood and self confidence, and helps to keep your brain active (no need to turn to bridge or bowls if that’s not your thing). Exercise also enhances flexibility and balance — reducing the likelihood of a bad fall — and reduces the impact of illness, according to this article on The Helpguide.Org.

  1. Present reality versus the past

It’s important to realise that getting or keeping fit as an older person neither looks nor feels the same as when you were younger. Whether you were fit or not when you were younger only matters in how it affects your expectations. If you were a marathon runner in your twenties, you may find the relative slowness of your reactions frustrating these days. However, if you’re starting on a low fitness base, you can get into the best shape of your life, even if you’re starting out for the first time now. “The upside is, if you have already built a strong foundation over the years, it’s not that hard to get it back.” says Jill Brown for the Huffington Post.

  1. Mix it up

You may have noticed this as a gym-goer in your thirties, but mixing it up is even more key as you age. “Ideally, a physical activity programme for people over 50 should include a combination of balance, stretching, cardiovascular, and crucially, weight-training exercises.” says Nilufer Atik for The Telegraph.

Now that you’re older, your bones, muscles and particularly joints have experienced some wear and tear. Mixing up what you do as exercise helps to prevent repetitive strain injuries.

  1. Find ways to enjoy it

It’s important to find ways to enjoy exercise, or you won’t stick at it for long:

  • Make it social: meet a friend for tennis or go running with a group
  • Stay entertained: while working out on gym equipment, bring your own music, podcasts or an audiobook to listen to
  • Get outside: hiking or walking the dog (borrow one if you need to!) in the great outdoors is beautiful, and has important benefits to improving your mood and reaction to stress
  1. Be accountable

Whether you hire a personal trainer to get you started, or check in with a friend — it’s harder to stop going if someone is holding you accountable. Put times in your diary each week to prioritise movement, otherwise something else will always come up.

Staying fit as you age isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity if you want to head into your golden years happy, healthy and independent. If you’re worried about starting up something you’ve never done before, talk to your doctor and a fitness professional to come up with the right programme for you. But make sure you do it — we promise you won’t be sorry.

Footnotes:

* TED – Ashton Applewhite: Let’s End Ageism: https://www.ted.com/talks/ashton_applewhite_let_s_end_ageism

Resources:

  1. Jill Brown – Fitness After 50: Can You Be In The Best Shape Of Your Life, And Should You Even Try?: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-s-brown/exercise-after-50_b_5611601.html
  2. Nilufer Atik – How to keep fit after 50: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/goodlife/11815795/How-to-keep-fit-after-50.html
  3. Over 50? Tips For Getting Fit Again (Or For The First Time!): https://healthyaging.net/sports/1368/
  4. Senior Exercise and Fitness Tips: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/exercise-and-fitness-as-you-age.htm

Choosing the right medical aid is no joke, but we’ll leave you smiling.