This Is the Best Workout Plan for People Over the Age of 50

If you’re over the age of 50 or your 50th birthday is fast approaching, you’ve probably noticed things have slowed down a little. Sadly, a natural consequence of aging is the body being slower to respond to exercise, plus an increase in fatigue and muscle joint aches.

When you’re over 50, certain exercises you’ve done all your life can become more dangerous — crunches, deadlifts, HIIT workouts and long distance runs, for example. There’s no doubt that the body changes after 50, but this workout plan will help you achieve lifelong fitness. And if you only have time for one workout, make it this one (see page 10).

Focus on your strength

senior man in sportswear kneeling alone in a gym

You should take weight training seriously. | UberImages/iStock/Getty Images

We now know that strength training is vital to any fitness routine, and that doesn’t change after your 50th birthday. Strength training will keep your muscles, memory, and your heart strong.

Next: Strength training is a little different for men and women.

Men, memorize these moves

Active senior man working exercise in the gym.

Men, head to the gym. | Liderina/iStock/Getty Images

Good news: As a man in your 50s, you can put body part-specific workouts like “back and biceps day” and “leg day” workout behind you. The latest research shows full body strength training sessions a few times a week are better for building muscle and losing fat for men over 50. Aim for hitting the weight room three times a week and doing a few moves that tone most of your muscle groups.

Next: Ladies, join the men in the weight room.

Women, you need weight training too

Fitness equipment dumbbells

Weights aren’t just for men. | Magone/iStock/Getty Images

Women need weight lifting just as much as men do — and once you hit 50, you’ll want to use weights to protect your bone density. If you haven’t worked out in awhile, start slowly with light dumbbell curls and dumbbell chest flys. Eventually, you can move up to kettlebell exercises (but learn proper form first).

Next: We can’t stress enough how important this part is.

Walk regularly…

Mature couple walking

Walking is low impact and is easy to do anywhere. | Image Source/Getty Images

It sounds simple, and it is — but it’s also important. Walking has consistently been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, improve the mood, and keep weight under control. The risk of injury is extremely low, and anyone can do it.

Next: A weekly walk around the block won’t cut it.

… and go the distance.

woman walking on the beach looking at the sea

Shoot for 10,000 steps each day. | jacoblund/Getty Images

When it comes to walking, frequency and distance do matter. We’re designed to be active, and if you can walk every day (or close to it), you’ll be doing yourself a big favor. You won’t always hit 10,000 steps a day, but that’s what you should aim for.

Next: Keep your core happy.

Don’t forget your core

Core exercises are important, no matter your age. | iStock.com

As we age, our core strength is often one of the first things to go. And since poor core strength can lead to other physical ailments you may not recover as quickly from after 50, it’s important not to neglect your core.

Next: Men, these are your best core-strengthening moves.

The best core moves for men

Man doing sit-ups with an exercise ball

Take time to learn the best movements for your body. | OJO Images/Getty Images

Toning your core goes way beyond doing standard sit-ups. For best results, do crunches and other ab moves on a stability ball, which will force you to use more of your muscles as you balance. Front and side planks are also excellent.

Next: Women, these moves are for you.

Core-toning exercises for women

Woman doing yoga moves

An online yoga class may be the trick to a firmer midsection. | Comstock/iStock/Getty Images

Most women focus on toning their abs in hopes of getting a flatter belly, but your core actually wraps all the way around your torso. Therefore, you should focus on toning many muscles at once. One exercise is called a canoe, which mimics the upper body motion of paddling a canoe. You also might enjoy a yoga class tailored to women over 50.

Next: Speaking of yoga…

Yoga has lasting health benefits

Senior couple performing yoga exercise

Yoga will help keep your body and mind young. | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

Whether you’ve been practicing for decades or you’ve never been on a mat in your life, developing a regular yoga practice can have lasting health benefits, especially for the over 50 crowd. You’ll improve your balance, protect your joints, and you may even help your memory and control your chronic pain.

Next: Health experts say this is the best overall exercise move for anyone over 50.

If you only have time for one move a day, make it this one

Aged woman in sportswear doing plank

This move hits all the major areas. | Victor_69/Getty Images

According to Barbara Hannah Grufferman, author of The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More, the absolute best exercise anyone over 50 can do is the plank. This one move works your arms, legs, hips, core, back, and glutes, and it benefits both men and women.

Next: Proper form is essential.

How to plank properly

Young man doing planks

Resting on your forearms may be the trick. | iStock.com/gpointstudio

Executing a proper plank is simple, but form does matter. Assume a modified push-up position with your elbows bent 90 degrees and both forearms resting on the floor. Position your elbows (or hands) directly underneath your shoulders and look straight toward the floor. Your body should form a perfectly straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Hold the position as long as you can, or try for 30 second intervals.

Next: There are a few exercises you should avoid.

How not to exercise after 50

Woman runner running on city road

Skip intense runs and opt for a slower, steady pace. | iStock.com/lzf

While it’s never too late to get back into shape (or start working out), the fact is, you can’t exercise the same way at 50 that you did at 25. Take things a little more slowly than you used to, especially if it’s been awhile since you’ve worked out regularly. Sprinting especially is a no-go — you’ll reap more benefits from a slow, steady run that covers more distance.

Next: Doctor knows best

Talk to your doctor

Male doctor talking to patient

Your doctor should be your go-to with questions. | Seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

Underling medical conditions can show up anytime, but the older you get, the more cautious you have to do. Talk to your doctor first, address any concerns you have, and get any tests you’ve been neglecting. The peace of mind you’ll feel will be worth it.

Next: It’s true, abs are (still) made in the kitchen.

Your diet matters more than ever

Salad

The food you put in your body really matters. | Vitalssss/iStock/Getty Images

Food can be great fuel for your body, or it can be your worst enemy. If you’re still eating like you did in your 20s or drinking too much, you’ll undo all the benefits of a good workout. Track your portions carefully and eat plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins.

Next: Don’t go it alone. 

Find a workout buddy

Women in dance fitness class

Find a workout friend. | iStock.com/FatCamera

Sadly, one common issue with getting older is having a hard time making friends. But since being lonely is just as bad for your health as being sedentary, finding a workout buddy or two can help you live a longer life in more ways than one.

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