Fitness for the over 50s
Looking after your physical and mental health can be more of a challenge the older you get.
As you enter your 50s and beyond, you may start looking to the future and want to get as much as you can out of life. Your fitness will play a big part in helping you do so.
Even if you currently lead an inactive lifestyle, it’s never too late to make a start on improving your overall fitness, so you can enjoy the end of your career and the beginning of your retirement.
With just a few simple changes to your daily routine, you can ensure your fitness remains on track, so you can live life to the full. Here are a few tips to get you started.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DIET AND EXERCISE AS YOU GET OLDER
Unfortunately, you can’t stay young forever and the older you get, the more you have to work at your health and fitness. Even if you’ve exercised regularly for most of your life to maintain your overall health and physique, as you get older, your body will have to work harder to perform its usual functions.
Lifestyle factors including stress, smoking and drinking or your diet can also take their toll on your body and organs, and make it harder to achieve optimum fitness. However, giving your lifestyle an overhaul and following more healthy eating habits has many benefits. You’ll have more energy to do the things you love, sleep better and feel less stressed.
Diet and exercise are also closely linked with positive mental wellbeing. While it can be hard to exercise, particularly if you are not used to it, making a start is a positive first step. Why not go for a walk, jog or bike ride to ease yourself in?
And if you don’t fancy braving the elements, there are plenty of ways to stay fit and healthy indoors. Join a gym, go swimming or take some exercise classes. If you don’t want to venture too far from home, lift some weights, invest in a few celebrity workout DVDs or check out some online fitness routines on YouTube to get you started.
Even if you spend just half-an-hour every day doing exercise which leaves you mildly out of breath, you’ll reap the benefits, including better heart and circulatory health, lower stress and improved emotional wellbeing.
Watching what you eat and drink is also crucial as you get older. Eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and veg, lean proteins and unsaturated fat is still the best way to stay healthy and ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
Cutting back your alcohol intake, stopping smoking and reducing the amount of caffeine you drink will also help. While you don’t want to cut out all your treats and guilty pleasures, doing them in moderation is the key.
Healthy snacks including nuts, dried fruit, and veg sticks make more nutritious alternatives to crisps, sweets and biscuits. And keeping plenty of fresh fruit juice and soda water in stock will stop you from being tempted to reach for the wine bottle every day. Don’t deny yourself the odd tipple or treat, as this will help to keep cravings at bay, just try to keep them as the exception rather than the norm.
Eating well and exercising regularly will help you to maintain good mental and physical health.
However, if you are concerned that you may be missing out on certain nutrients, or need a helping hand to relax and unwind, then supplementation can help. Lily & Loaf supply a full range of natural, nutritional supplements to support your overall health and wellbeing as you get older, so you can enjoy life to the fullest.
Browse our full range to see which products can help you achieve your lifestyle goals.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I EXERCISE WHEN I'M IN MY 50's?
There are no hard and fast rules about how often you should exercise when in your 50s. Much will depend on your general health and fitness levels, whether you are used to regular exercise, or have any health issues that may prevent you from doing certain activities.
However, an excellent place to start is to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity – think walking, jogging or cycling – on at least three days a week. It doesn’t have to be intense, just go at a comfortable pace to get your heart pumping and your joints and muscles moving. The fitter you get, the more you will be able to do.
If you already follow an exercise plan, then keep up the good work, just remember to rest and recover properly after each workout or training session, stay hydrated and eat well to keep your energy levels up. If you are starting from scratch and are worried about your overall health, or are recovering from an illness or surgery, it’s always best to have a quick chat with your doctor to see what they recommend.
The bottom line, though, is that any exercise is better than none. Just don’t overdo it or do anything your body can’t cope with. An active lifestyle, combined with a healthy diet, will help you enjoy life and be able to handle anything it throws at you.
THE ULTIMATE TRAINING PLAN FOR OVER 50's
As we’ve said above, doing at least half an hour’s aerobic activity around three times a week is a good place to start. Walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, racket sports, cycling, football and golf are all good activities to take part in that will not only keep you healthy but are fun too.
If you are looking for something a bit more low-key, here are a few exercises that can be done by anyone indoors, with minimal equipment. They will give you a full-body workout to help you tone up your muscles and elevate your heartbeat to improve your fitness levels.
Try to do three sets of ten of each exercise. If you can’t manage that when you start, just do what you can and gradually increase it each time until you can do the full amount.
Rocket jumps are done by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent and your hands on your thighs. Jump up, lifting your hands above your head in the shape of a rocket and stretch your entire body. Bend your knees on landing to cushion the impact.
Do star jumps by standing straight with your arms by your sides and your feet close together. Bend your knees slightly, then jump up and stretch your arms and legs out while you are in the air, in the shape of a star, before bringing them back in when you land.
Follow these up with some squats. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands by your sides. Straighten your back and tighten your tummy muscles, then lower your body by bending your knees until they are almost at a right angle, so your thighs are parallel with the floor. Keep your back straight and don’t let your knees lock, then straighten your legs and stand back up.
And finish off with some burpees, which build on the movement you did for a squat to bring your upper body muscles into play. From the same standing position, drop into a squat, then place your hands on the ground. From there, extend your legs back into a push-up position. Hold for a second, then bring your legs back into a squat and jump back up, with your arms extended over your head to complete the exercise.
Don’t forget to warm up before you start exercising and cool down afterwards. And to round things off, why not treat yourself to a nice warm bath, with your favourite essential oils, to relax and unwind?