Fitness after 50: 5 must-do exercises
Are you ready to put the “boom” back in baby boomer? There is no gray area when it comes to the importance of a regular fitness routine. While aches and pains may cause older adults to refrain from exercising, removing physical activity entirely causes more harm than good. Keep your heart, joints and muscles young with the following three forms of exercise.
If you have new or chronic pain or injuries, consult your physician before beginning an exercise routine.
Strengthening your balance and stability is one of the most important factors in preventing falls. Fall-related injuries such as hip fractures have a huge impact on your health and independence. Practice the following exercises to improve your core strength, balance, and overall control of your body.
Beginner. Stand on one foot for 45 to 60 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then switch sides.
Intermediate. Position your right foot in front of your left. Close your eyes and cross your arms over your chest. Hold for 45 to 60 seconds 3 to 5 times. Repeat on the opposite side.
Advanced. Start in a seated position so the knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift the right foot slightly off the ground. Keeping your shoulders back, abs tight and neck relaxed, push through your left heel, lifting the body into a standing position. Repeat 10 times, then alternate to the other side. Try to avoid swinging your arms for momentum.
Bending, moving with ease, good posture — these are all characteristics of someone with healthy joints and good flexibility. Osteoarthritis, the gradual degeneration of cartilage between the joints, is a common form of arthritis experienced by older adults. Stretching can help ease the aches and pains of stiff joints.
Perform each stretch 3 to 5 times, remembering to move slowly when moving into each position.
- Begin on your hands and knees.
- Spread your knees wide apart and sit back until your butt is resting on your heels and your upper body is positioned between your legs. Note that tight hip flexors can make it challenging to sit back on your heels. Do not force this stretch; rather, stay within your range of motion for best results.
- Extend your arms in front of you with your palms facing down. Softly place your forehead on the floor. Hold for 60 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Lie in a supine position with your knees bent and both feet planted firmly on the floor.
- Press through your hands and heels to elevate your hips so they form a straight line from the shoulders to the knees. Knees should be aligned directly above the heels. Hold for 15 seconds, repeating 8 to 10 times.
As we age, our bodies begin to lose muscle definition. Strength training is a valuable toning tool, as it aids in increasing bone density, maintaining muscle mass, preventing falls, and helping combat such chronic diseases as Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s.
- Start in a supine position with your arms and legs in the air.
- Engage your core muscles by pressing your lower back into the ground.
- Slowly bring the right leg and left arm down toward the ground until your heel hovers above it. Return the right leg and left arm back to the starting position.
- Repeat with the left leg and right arm. Continue alternating sides for 20 repetitions.
- Facing away from a chair, position the body so the feet are shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping the shoulders back and core muscles tight, shift your body weight into your heels and push back at the hips. Slowly lower your body until you make contact with the seat of the chair.
- Push through the heels and squeeze your butt to return to the starting position. Avoid swinging the arms for momentum.