5-steps to kick-starting your fitness at 50+
Updated: Apr 19, 2020
If you're over 50, getting fitter will make a great difference to your life. This simple 5-step strategy can help you to realise this ambition.
1. Pick activities you love
Getting fit after 50 means exercising on a regular basis. That's why it's essential that you choose an activity that you enjoy. Anything that gets your heart pumping is good.
In fact, the best approach is to choose several activities, as this will work different muscle groups, and help to maintain variety in your daily schedule. This will help to keep boredom at bay and allow you to create an exercise habit. It can take between 30-60 days to create a habit, but once you have one, you’ll find it easier to exercise than it is not too! Strength training is as important as cardio work. Strength training sessions will help you to build muscle, which improves your metabolic rate and helps to prevent age-related muscle wastage.
2. Take it just one step at a time
If you’re new to working out or haven’t done it for years, then you need to remember that you’re over 50. It doesn't matter how enthusiastic you are. Being over 50 means you're at higher risk of injury when exercising for the first time. For this reason, take it slow and gradually increase the tempo. You’re not in a race. View it as a marathon, as you want to be doing it for years to come.
3. FInd a friend
Motivation is a key to getting fit after 50. Accountability plays equally as important a role.The best way to take care of both of these is to enlist a friend to get active with you. Both of you must be motivated to get fit for yourselves, not for someone else. You can then set a joint time to exercise (you can do this virtually during C-19 restrictions on Strava or other fitness apps) and even compare notes on your eating habits. This makes you accountable and creates a little healthy competition. The desire to do better than your friend will help to ensure you stick to your new healthy lifestyle. Everything you do needs to be sustainable and affordable in the long term.
4. Make it a date
Don’t underestimate the importance of scheduling exercise time. There is always something to do and anything can seem to be more appealing than eating healthily or completing your workout! That’s why you need to adopt the same approach to exercise as you would any other important event in your life. Plan for it. Create an appointment in your diary every day. It need only to be a 30 minute slot. You’ll then know it is coming up, allowing you to get mentally prepared to exercise – even when you don’t really feel like it. You might be surprised at how effective this is at getting you to exercise regularly.
5. Create micro targets along the way
Goals play an important part in your success. Your overall goal might be to be healthier and perhaps lose some weight. This is a little vague, which makes it harder to stick to. Focusing on small achievable goals will help you to create a habit. Reward yourself for reaching them. If you’re looking to lose weight, set yourself a weekly goal of 1-2kg. If you achieve the goal for 4 weeks in a row, reward yourself. Or, if you just want to get fitter, measure how far you can walk in 15 minutes. You can then set a goal of being able to complete a greater distance in the same time. If you can do this after a week or two, give yourself another reward. Soon it will become hard to break your habits, whether you have rewards or not!