It’s not just hype, your body truly changes when you turn 50, whether you’re a man or a woman. Men and Women gain that dreaded belly fat and lose muscle elasticity. Both men and women over 50 also need a longer time to heal from an illness or injury. Hospitalizations tend to become more frequent because of the loss of muscle mass and bone density.
Experts across the board agree that exercise and healthy eating are the golden keys to maintaining your health and mobility after the age of 50. But it can be difficult to find an exercise that doesn’t injure or strain an aging body. One of the most effective and safe ways to stay fit and active is through slow-motion resistance training. “Resistance training is the gold standard to preserve muscle and strength,” says Suzette Pereira, a researcher with Abbott Nutrition, Columbus, Ohio, specializing in muscle health and muscle loss associated with age. “It’s never too late to start. Your muscles have plasticity, meaning they can become strong again,” she insists.
So, how can you get stronger without the risk of injury? Here are 5 activities you can start today!
Block out a day(s) and time where you regularly do an activity that you enjoy. If you don’t make it a part of your daily or weekly routine, you won’t stick to it. Consider this calendar entry as the time you are making for yourself, whether it’s 20 minutes or an hour, it’s the regularity that will help you stay consistent.
Don’t rush out and start lifting weights if you haven’t strength trained in a while or ever before. There is no faster way to hurt yourself than by overdoing it. Before you start any new workout regimen, check-in with your doctor to make sure you don’t have an underlying condition that could put you at risk for injury or illness. The next step is to find a program or trainer that is experienced or specializes in training people 50 and older. Remember, if you injure yourself it will take you longer to recover and that creates more distance between you and your goals.
If you have a motivated partner, research shows that you are more likely to stay committed to working out. In a study published in April 2017 in Nature Communications, MIT researchers found that exercise is “socially contagious”. For example, if you want to run, the more runners you know, the more likely you are to run. You’ll also be less likely to get bored and quit if you have a friend you look forward to seeing during your workouts.
If building muscle mass is your goal, which should be for anyone over 50, find a strength training program that allows you to start small and slow. Workouts that include a lot of cardio or heavy weights create a lot of stress for your body at this age and older. Instead, do one or two low-intensity workouts a week. Slow, measured movements with a trainer who can ensure your form and movements are correct will go a long way to prevent fatigue and injury. Taking a break in between those workouts will also help your body recover and keep you heart-healthy.
Now that you are strengthening your muscles and building your bone density, it’s time to start moving around and making more time for activities that you love. Walking the dog longer, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, finally doing that gardening project, or cleaning out the garage are all ways to put those stronger muscles and bones to work for you. As you gain strength make sure to keep that body moving, this will help strengthen your core, improve your balance, and stretch your flexibility.
We’ve all heard that a body in motion, stays in motion. Gaining strength allows us to continue to do things for ourselves. Independence becomes very important to us as we age. Strength training with a partner or a trainer also helps keep us social and our minds sharp. Managing our physical health and being able to continue doing the activities we love also helps with our overall mental and emotional health. So, get moving and make those 50’s and beyond the best years yet.
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