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  • Mick Hurrell

Your 6-point blueprint to getting fit after 50!

It’s never too late to start exercising. Maybe lately it hasn’t been a priority for you, but eventually, a lack of active movement will catch up with you. Regular activity is necessary to stay healthy and prevent common age-related problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. It also encourages healthy muscles, joints, and bones too.

If you’ve never exercised before, or not for a long time, it can be hard to get started. But research shows that getting active in middle age has a range of benefits.

Here’s a 6-point blueprint for how you can introduce regular exercise into your life after 50.

1. Find your motivation.

2. Start slowly.

3. Keep it regular.

4. Try out a variety of activities.

5. You don’t have to go to the gym to workout.

6. Incorporate some strength-training and flexibility exercises.

Now read on for the inside track:

1. Find your motivation.

Why do you want to start exercising? Maybe your GP prescribed more activity, or you’re hoping to trim down a bit, or you just want more energy to keep up with your grandchildren. Finding your ‘Why?’, your reason for being more active, will help to keep you focused on it as a goal. Eventually, it will become a part of your lifestyle, and after noticing how good staying active makes you feel, it will be much easier to be active regularly

2. Start slowly.

The truth is, your body just can’t recover as quickly as you age, so if you are trying to start to exercise for the first time, focus on low-intensity exercises that won’t leave you overly sore (or worse, injured). Try some at-home strength workouts to get going, then slowly work up to light weights-based fitness classes, or more high-intensity training. Try to leave at least 48 hours between training the same muscle group to allow recovery time. And most importantly, listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t over-do it.

3. Keep it regular.

It’s called a routine for a reason. To see any benefit from exercise for over-50s, doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity – such as brisk walking and muscle strengthening exercises ­ at least two days each week. Try to find a way to hold yourself accountable, whether that means meeting a friend for weekly walks, pre-registering for group classes (meaning you’re losing money if you don’t go), or scheduling sessions with a personal trainer.

4. Try out a variety of activities.

Experiment a little with different types of activities and find what feels right for you. Eventually, you’ll find one that sticks. Or ditch the gym and go for a bike ride, take a hike, do a drop-in Zumba, class or swim some laps at the local pool. It’s good to focus on a combination of strength training, cardiovascular training, and balance training, so trying out different types of exercise will benefit you overall.

5. You don’t have to go to the gym to workout.

Plenty of activities can get you moving and keep you healthy. Gardening, walking the dog, playing with your grandchildren, or going on a hike or bike ride are all great ways to burn some calories, and can be peppered into your day naturally and enjoyably. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore!

6. Incorporate some strength training and flexibility exercises.

While light daily activity and getting 10,000 steps a day is extremely beneficial to your health, it’s also important to work in strength, balance, and flexibility training to your exercise routine. Without some kind of strength-building exercises your muscles will start to weaken and lose mass as you get older, increasing your risk of injury. Try light weight-lifting, or yoga for balance and flexibility. And make sure to stretch after every workout!

Sound simple enough? Ready for the challenge? Let’s get moving!

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