If you’re over 50, you should be thinking about how you plan on maintaining your fitness level. Common changes that take place as you age can threaten your ability to stay in good physical and mental shape. But here’s some positive news: how quickly and drastically those changes appear may be up to you. In fact, you can take control of your health–and fitness–more easily than you might think.
Here are nine tips for staying fit after 50. Follow these, and keep your body and mind in top condition despite the aging process.
Don’t Skip Daily Exercise
It’s easy to say you don’t need to exercise today, but for the 50-plus crowd, any amount of exercise you do helps you stay fit and prevents a pattern of laziness. That doesn’t mean you have to work out hard every day; you just need to keep your body moving. Make an effort to do some form of physical activity daily so that muscles and joints stay flexible, strong, and healthy.
Work Your Heart
Staying fit at midlife doesn’t just require regular exercise; you need effective exercise to keep your heart in shape. And that means working your heart to a level that’s beneficial for health. Check with a doctor for safety first, but attempt to get your heart rate to its target range when you exercise. See the American Heart Association for target heart rate guidelines based on your age.
Mix It Up
Variety may be the spice of life, but it also keeps older adults interested in exercise. Don’t give up walking, biking, and swimming–they’re all good ways to stay fit after 50. Instead, alternate them with less common activities tailored for your age group. Try pickleball, a new paddle sport that combines elements of tennis and ping pong, gentle yoga, line dancing, or aqua aerobics.
Devote Time to Mental Health
Keeping your mind sharp and active after 50 plays a key role in overall fitness. Physical exercise has many positive effects on the brain, including improved memory and thinking. But doing mental activities helps reduce aging of the brain and the onset of dementia. Challenging card games, word and math puzzles, reading, and interesting conversation help maintain brain fitness.
Strength training improves muscles, balance, weight, and bone mass–all important areas of health that need attention in the midlife years. Although strength training often involves lifting or pushing weights, you can do other strength-training exercises without equipment. Pushups, lunges, crunches, squats, and curls are all effective ways to get stronger and stay fit after 50.
Remember when you were younger and could eat anything you wanted without suffering ill effects? Those days are gone. Your midlife body and mind need nutritious foods and good eating habits to halt the signs of aging, fend off disease, and stay fit. Eat breakfast to boost metabolism for the day, choose lean meats and vitamin-rich produce, avoid sugar, and get plenty of fiber.
Grab a Partner
The older you get, the harder it is to stay motivated to exercise and eat right. That’s where a partner can come in handy. Find someone who will inspire you to lead a healthy lifestyle. A spouse, son or daughter, or like-minded friend can be the perfect exercise and dining companion. Plus, you’ll both reap the benefits of having someone to help keep you healthy and fit.
Make Rest a Priority
Young people don’t need to worry about a sleepless night now and then. For 50-year-olds, sleep deprivation is a bigger problem. Not only is insomnia more common after 50, it can interfere with your health and fitness. Follow good sleep hygiene, like doing relaxing activities before bed and hitting the hay at a decent hour. When sleep doesn’t come, rest is second best.
As you age, your sense of thirst can diminish–which is why it’s important to drink fluids throughout the day whether you feel dry or not. Staying hydrated keeps your body systems running smoothly and your mind alert. Water is one of the best hydrators, but other liquids can do the trick, including broth-based soups, tea, skim milk, and unsweetened juices.
Don’t let your age keep you from staying in shape. The above tips will put you on the right track for maintaining and improving your fitness level after 50. Who knows? You may start to look and feel better–and younger–than ever before.