Exercising After 50
By Todd Tampke, BSc. Exercise Sports Science
Inner Element Fitness General Manager
Inner Element Fitness General Manager Todd Tampke has made his career on providing personalized fitness programs and training to meet the unique wants and needs of each individual client. So, who better to approach with questions and concerns about exercise after the age of 50?
Stressing the fact that every person is different and, therefore, will inevitably respond differently to various fitness regimens, Tampke recognizes that metabolism generally becomes slower with age. Considering this fact, weekly exercise sessions must be scheduled with the knowledge that the average 50-year-old will simply not bounce back from a tough workout as quickly as he or she did at age 20.
Tampke also places a higher emphasis on injury prevention when dealing with older clients. Because individuals over the age of 50 are far more likely to suffer from over-tight tendons and/or inflamed joints, any athletic activity must be tailored to reduce strain on these sensitive body parts.
General Health Benefits
of Exercising After 50
As compiled by Australian Seniors, the health benefits of exercising after your 50th birthday are both powerful and wide-ranging. In addition to building essential muscle and bone mass and boosting both cardiovascular function and energy levels, older individuals who exercise regularly can mitigate the symptoms, reduce the risk, and/or delay the potential development of diseases and disorders that include heart disease/stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease as well as cancer of the lung, colon, and breast.
Dos and Don’ts
To accommodate his older clients, Todd Tampke has created a short list of “dos and don’ts” to both inform and inspire customized fitness routines and regimens. People over 50 should begin by simply beginning to exercise.
- Start moving immediately
If you’re just sitting on the couch thinking about exercising, get up! Just as a marathon begins with a single stride, your journey to marathon runner may begin with a short walk. The important thing is to start moving today.
- Make proper preparations
For those ready to embrace exercise more seriously, it is important to be prepared and know it. Depending on your athletic activity of choice, this might mean choosing the right running shoe or ensuring that your rock-climbing gear meets relevant regulatory standards.
- Know your limits
Because they are at a greater risk of pain and injury, people over 50 should take exceptional care to ensure that they aren’t overextending themselves.
- Find fitness activities that you enjoy
If you don’t find athletic activities and exercises that you enjoy, you are probably not going to stick with them. You also can’t persist in activities that will stress and harm your body. Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) Linda Melone points to activities such as sprinting and weightlifting exercises such as leg extensions and overhead presses as particularly problematic for people over 50.
- Surround yourself with positivity
Fitness success goes hand in hand with positive thinking and supportive environments. Make sure that you take the time to recognize your achievements.
- Make excuses
Because older bodies just don’t recover as quickly in the wake of a rigorous workout, people over 50 may have to push through more pain in order to meet their fitness goals. The key thing to remember is that movement is typically the only thing that brings relief to sore muscles and joints.
- Rush yourself
Be conscious of your age and your general fitness level before taking that incredibly heavy dumbbell off the stand at your gym. Slow down and ensure that you are doing everything with the proper technique.
- Forget to stretch
In her article “Fitness and Exercise Rules That Change After 50” Linda Melone, CSCS, declares, “Stretching is no longer an option after 50.” In addition to stressing the importance of stretching before exercise, the article sites medical experts who contend that stretching after exercise may be just as important. In general, older people should engage all major muscle groups in a total body stretch at least two or three times per week.
- Hesitate to get help
Getting in shape on your own can be tremendously difficult if not downright impossible. Plus, fitness newcomers (particularly those who are older than 50) risk serious injury if they don’t learn proper form and technique before attempting certain exercises. While so-called “exercise gurus” abound on YouTube and other online sites, you must take care to ensure that your fitness expert of choice is both knowledgeable and credentialed.
- Be afraid to just get started
The last important “don’t” for exercise after age 50 mirrors the very first “do” by encouraging people to begin moving right away. Every year after 50 brings greater physical challenges and increased risk of serious health problems, so the time to wait is over!
Ready to get on track? Ask me for help defining realistic fitness and/or nutrition goals and designing the plans to achieve them.
DISCLAIMER Please recognize the fact that it is your responsibility to work directly with your physician before, during, and after seeking fitness consultation. As such, any information provided is not to be followed without the prior approval of your physician. If you choose to use this information without the prior consent of your physician, you are agreeing to accept full responsibility for your decision.