The Challenges of Staying Fit in Your Fifties and Beyond
Maintaining a fitness regime is important throughout life. Whether or not you have exercised regularly over the years, once you reach your fifties and beyond, the challenges and rewards from keeping fit will become even more apparent. It really comes down to being able to adapt your fitness regime around perhaps dealing with some minor injuries, longer recovery times from exercise sessions and general feelings of apathy, which let’s face it affect us all.
The Benefits of Staying Fit into Your Fifties
The benefits of staying fit in our fifties and beyond include physical ones such as lower blood pressure, lower weight, reduction of insulin resistance, hearth disease etc, and mental ones such as better sleep, a reduction in stress and anxiety and help with depression. Let’s not forget looking good, and maybe even younger than your years, if that is important to you. There is really no downside at all to exercising, and being inactive has plenty of negative affects.
You Might Need to be More Creative in Your Fitness Regime
If you can learn to be more creative, pace yourself as well as push yourself in the right ways, it really will pay off both physically and mentally. I’ve always enjoyed being active, yet have recently had to have surgery on my knee which has left me much less agile than before. I used to power walk every day for at least 2 miles, and although not a runner, I would regularly jog 5k. The jogging on roads is likely what gave me an arthritic knee. As I have been forced to adapt my fitness regime I now try and concentrate more on cycling and a cross-trainer/elliptical for my aerobic exercise, so that my knee joint is more protected from hard impact. I continue to be aware of the need to keep strong without injuring my muscles, particularly both knees even further. I am aware of being off-balance too because of the weak knee, so keeping up strength and flexibility training is important, especially as I get older.
Remember if you are unused to exercise, or are planning on raising your game and taking on a new kind of sport, you should always get peace of mind by having a check up with a doctor first.
If you need some ideas and inspiration regarding fitness in your fifties and beyond, here are a few pointers to help you:
Try to Include both High and Moderate Intensity Exercises in Your Fitness Regime.
The reason for this is that studies have shown major benefits to our health can be achieved by exercising for 75 minutes per week at high intensity, or at 150 minutes per week at moderate intensity. High intensity exercise includes such activities as skipping, cycling,sprinting, dancing or a HIIT routine that includes fast moves like burpees or mountain climbers. Really an activity that gets your heart rate up and makes you out of breath enough that talking is a bit of an effort and you break a sweat. Moderate exercise could involve walking or cycling at a slightly slower pace. 150 minutes per week is 2.5 hours, or 30 minutes a day over 5 days, which is realistically achievable for everyone with a bit of effort. 75 minutes per week is 1.25 hours which could be broken down into 5 X 15 minute sessions over 5 days. If you can manage both then you really will reap the rewards and see results.
Allow for a Longer Recovery Time
Whilst strenuous exercise is good for us, allowing for proper rest and recovery time becomes even more important not only to avoid injury (like the one to my knee), but to also maximise the efficiency of every exercise session that follows. There is nothing more frustrating than being injured, laid up and unable to exercise at all. The loss of fitness, especially in your fifties, can happen quite quickly, and being back at square one can make it hard to get things started again. Take rest, recovery and sleep seriously and incorporate them into your fitness regime as best you can, even though it is not always easy!
Mix it Up Your Fitness Regime to Keep things Interesting and Efficient
As we age, it’s very important to take an all-round view of our fitness regimes, and include exercise for endurance-building, strength-training and flexibility Flexibility in particular is of great benefit as we move into our later years, when co-ordination and balance come less naturally to our bodies. Doing a wide range of exercises also helps to keep things fresh, not only do you force your body (in the nicest possible way) to adapt to new things, it will also help to stop you getting too bored with doing the same thing over and over, and ensure that you don’t give up.
Muscle Loss Accelerates with Age
Muscle loss over the years mostly comes about through being inactive, and this loss only accelerates as we move into our middle years. Therefore it is important to build and strengthen muscles through resistance training. Resistance training also increases bone density and mass, ensuring bones do not become brittle and result in potentially developing osteoporosis. You can workout using weights of any size either at home or in the gym. There are also plenty of exercises which use body weight alone, such as press-ups, and power-walking which have a positive effect on both muscles and bones. Win win.
Maintaining Your Fitness is a Great Mood Booster
I am a great believer in the saying ‘Get out of your mind and into your body’ for when things feel stressful and I am in danger of over-thinking situations. Modern life is challenging for everyone and this is a time in our lives when we should do what we can to reduce anxiety and the potential effects it can have on us physically. If you have a spare 30 minutes and can get outside for a walk, I would highly recommend this. It will help to clear your head and hopefully gain perspective whilst at the same time being of enormous benefit physically.
Exercise Could Help to Improve Brain Function
There is new evidence of links between doing aerobic exercise and increasing the size of the hippocampus part of the brain.This is the area responsible for both verbal memory and learning. Heart-pumping exercise results in greater blood flow and a reduction in inflammation to the vital organs including the brain. Many of us experience the dreaded ‘brain fog’ and with levels of dementia increasing it is looking hopeful that keeping active into old age could help to mitigate against the worst effects.
Keeping up a fitness regime at any stage in life can be challenging but the rewards of doing so in your fifties and beyond more than outweigh any difficulties. It’s essential for physical and mental well-being both now and in the future. Your current self will reap the rewards and your seventy year-old self will be very grateful to you in years to come.
Thanks for reading, Suzy xx