Think fitness is just for the young, think again! Exercising when you’re over 50 is possible, as long as you know what you’re doing. Here’s seven top tips
It’s everywhere! On the tv, radio, in the supermarkets, all over social media, in café conversations and even on holidays. The fit amd healthy lifestyle trend has exploded in popularity. But is this health and fitness craze really just for the younger generations? Is there really much point exercising when you’re over 50? Yes! Absolutely there is and here’s why.
The amount of benefits for a person over the age of 50 who exercises regularly is so vast that we would need to write a separate article to cover them all. Basically, you can expect massive improvements to your quality of life from the day you start. Benefits include increased energy levels, a stronger and fitter physique, a much stronger defence to illness and disease, better sleep, improved memory, improved mental health, stress reduction, an increase in positivity and happiness and a decrease in depression and anxiety, it can even reverse the symptoms of aging.
A vital area which a lot of people tend to overlook is the importance of getting your mind in the correct state. Think of exercise as a treat for your body and mind, not something negative that you have to do. You must be clear on why you are starting this new regimen and know what your goals are. You must envision the results you want to achieve and how happy you’ll feel when you achieve them. Write them down if need be.
Don’t start at a million miles an hour. Start with small, achievable goals such as walking 20 – 30 minutes each day. Then gradually introduce new challenges into your walk like taking on steep hills, steps or increasing your speed.
Get your heart pumping
Once you’ve got to grips with your new regimen and have increased your fitness level, aim to do 3-4 20 minute sessions of aerobic exercise each week. Try activities like jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking, gardening, squash or tennis. These are sure ways to strengthen your heart and to boost your energy levels.
Work on your core
Remember those ads on tv for “miracle” body toning machines which would work your arms, legs, hips, core, back, and glutes all at the same time? Well, it is actually possible to work all these areas at once but not with an expensive machine, all you need to do is a simple body position called the plank. If there is one exercise you should do every day, this is it.
It’s very simple to do: Assume a push-up position with both forearms resting on the floor. Position your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and look straight. Hold this position for 20 seconds and rest. Gradually increase the length of time you perform this exercise.
As we age we lose muscle but actually, weight training can reverse much of this decline by increasing the size of shrunken muscle fibres. Weight training increases bone mass and density which helps to prevent diseases like osteoporosis. There are many free weights and machines in gyms you can use, but there are also free alternative workouts you can do at home such as press-ups and squats. Don’t have dumbbells? Find alternatives like water bottles to lift. Just remember to start light and gradually increase the weights accordingly. And remember, if you’re not sure on the correct way to lift a weight, ask first.
Join a group
There are so many meet up groups and classes to choose from. Find something that’s right for you and start doing it with like-minded people. These groups have encouraging, motivating environments and people tend to push themselves that little bit extra. You’re much more likely to stick with your exercise regimen if you’re part of a group. Also, there can be a great social side to joining one.
As we age nutrition awareness should become a very important part of our lives and it’s an area you must take seriously and adapt to your new fitness regimen. Talk of new super-foods can be overwhelming and confusing but just keep it simple. Make sure to eat plenty of whole foods containing protein and fibre, avoid too much salt, try to avoid processed foods and make fruit and nuts your sneaky snacks. Make meal preparation your fun, daily challenge. Go to the kitchen, put on music you love and start creating amazing dishes or smoothies. I recently experimented for breakfast by putting rocket leaves in a bowl, adding a big scoop of natural greek yogurt and a chopped banana, putting cashew nuts on top and pouring some honey over it. It was delicious and healthy. And it took less than a minute to make.
Here are 7 foods which are extremely good for people over 50
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and seds (Cashew, almonds, pumpkin seed, sunflower seeds)
- Leafy greens (Spinach, ale, rocket)
- Berries (Blueberries and strawberries)
- Natural yoghurt
Robin Meredith is operations director at Tropical Coast Bootcamp, which encourages guests to expect outdoor fitness in stunning natural surroundings. For more information click here