What Types of Exercises are Best for 50 and Older?

The benefits of regular exercise are far reaching, and include reducing the risk of many chronic diseases, improving the quality of your sleep and your mood, boosting energy, reducing anxiety and stress, enabling you to maintain your day-to-day activities, reducing cognitive decline, and raising your self-esteem. With so many benefits, why is it that the American Senior Fitness Association estimates that 60% of mature adults are inactive? Are you one of those inactive ones? If so, I suggest it’s time to get active. But how?

Here are 5 important considerations to start with:

  1. It’s never too late to get fitter and healthier.
  2. It doesn’t take much time – but it does take regularity.
  3. Exercise has numerous health benefits, extends your life and aids in preventing cognitive decline.
  4. Getting older is inevitable, but you can control how you age.
  5. Exercising reduces or eliminates help needed from other people, and you to do for yourself.

Ready to start? Here are a number of exercises to consider.

Walking

Walking, particularly brisk walking, is great cardiovascular exercise, and is know to increase longevity (Study) and reduce cognitive decline (Study). Walking is easy to do, and you probably already have the equipment. Get out to the park, explore your neighborhoods, walk to a friend’s house, or the store.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is an incredibly important part of anti-aging workouts for many reasons:

  1. Resistance training stimulates the release of natural hormones that diminish as you age. Testosterone (for men), estradiol and estrogen (for women) decrease as age increases.
  2. Resistance training helps prevent the loss of muscular strength known to accompany aging. A study from The University of New Mexico proved that after just 26 weeks of resistance training, “179 genes associated with age and exercise showing a reversal of their gene expression. This means quite literally that the resistance training was not only slowing, but also reversing the aging process at the gene level.” (Study)
  3. Resistance training counteracts age-associated declines in insulin sensitivity and aids in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. (Study)
  4. Resistance training can improves body composition, body fat distribution, inflammatory markers, and blood sugar regulation. (Study)

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Yoga

Yoga is one of the best exercises for people over age 50 because it strengthens your muscles and increases your flexibility. Because yoga increases body awareness, it tends to mindfulness, and reduced eating. The stretching and deep breathing inherent in yoga reduce stress hormones that contribute to belly fat. (Study) Yoga also improves your posture for a more youthful appearance, and helps improve balance, reducing the risk of falls.

Bicycling

Bicycling, like other exercises that get your heart rate up, such as dancing, basketball, jogging or hiking helps you burn calories, strengthening your heart and muscles. Bicycling is one of the most effective calorie burners because bicycling uses the biggest muscles in your body – your legs. Cycling, swimming or running (as well as other exercises) at higher intensity decreases their heart attack risk.

Rowing

Rowing is a great exercise, as it’s no-impact and has phenomenal health benefits. Swimming and cross-country skiing are the only sports that come as close. Like other exercise, rowing also helps flex the mind. Exercise slows the decrease in size of the brain’s temporal and prefrontal cortices, which control vital functions such as multi-tasking, planning, memory, and paying attention. (Study) Rowing is also a functional exercise, as it’s similar to picking something up off the floor, and a compound exercise, as it works 9 major muscle groups. You can take it easy, or really push yourself, as your goals and mood dictate.

Swimming

Swimming is another great exercise that’s low impact and postpones the aging process – and not by a little, but by as much as decades! (Study) Swimming is also an ideal place to stiff muscles and sore joints, improve cardiovascular health and muscular strength. It’s a complete exercise that you can still do when you’re over 100!

There are numerous other activities you can do, including dance, get a cardio workout on an elliptical trainer or a treadmill, improve your balance and mindfulness with Tai Chi, or enjoy some time with friends and get a little competition in with tennis. Remember to incorporate stretching into your routine.

Let us know what you do! What are your favorite exercises, and how often do you exercise? Send your thoughts to writers@grayzonefitness.com.

Cheers!

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