Before I turned 50, my son called me ‘pre-old.’ I wasn’t old (in his mind) until my 50th birthday. And now I am 50 years old and counting, I’m officially old (according to him) and getting my AARP emails.
But you’re only as old as you feel right?
Or is it the person you feel? I’m so old I forgot.
Please don’t stop reading. My jokes are going to get better. I hope.
What was I talking about again? Ah that’s right, exercising after 50. Although some of us are in denial about age (I’m not one of them) there is one thing that’s tried, true and real.
Exercise becomes more important as you age.
Not only because of the way you look but for the huge health benefits too. Here are some of the changes that happen to the body after age 50.
- You gain weight at a rate of one to two pounds per year (if you don’t exercise) around middle age, according to the CDC.
- You lose around 1.5% of your strength per year after the age of 50.
- You lose twice that, around 3% of your power or the ability to move quickly every year after the age of 50.
- Peak aerobic capacity declines with age
- The ligaments and tendons that supports your muscle and bones, get thicker, dehydrated and less resistant to stretching
- After about age 20, you can lose bone faster than you make bone if you don’t do anything about it. Imagine what happens when you’re 50.
This list could go on and on, but you’ve gotten the point. To keep what you have and to slow the aging decline, exercise is essential.
Here are 5 tips to help whether you’re a regular exerciser or you’re starting out on your own journey. No old people jokes here because I’d only be making fun of myself.
Do What You ‘Hate’ The Least
My wife hates the gym. She hates squats, push ups, rows and any and all resistance exercises. When I started out as a trainer, she helped me refine my craft by training her.
Let’s just say that didn’t go well. I got lots of stink faces and swear words. None to be repeated here because this is a family blog.
But get her out in the yard, gardening or doing other home improvement projects, she’s like a pig in mud. And she is squatting, pushing, pulling, hinging, and carrying heavy stuff. All the stuff you would do in the gym but in an environment she enjoys.
The gym is my bag and I’m the total opposite of her. I’d rather get all my teeth pulled out than to do yard work and home improvement projects. However, get me in the gym and I love doing work.
Half the battle with exercise is finding what you enjoy and then sticking to it. And once you do, do it for the rest of your life. Because a little over the long haul will keep you in good shape.
Go Quick Once In A While
After age 50, you lose power faster than you lose strength. And that might not matter now but just wait until someone steals your walking stick and you want it back. Sorry I said the jokes were getting better. I lied.
Training power helps keep valuable muscle and helps you build new muscle. Because power exercises train the big fat twitch muscle fibers which mostly determine the size of a muscle. And best of all, power training is easy and fun.
However, I have a twisted sense of fun.
My personal power favorites are medicine ball throws. They’re easy to perform, highly effective and fun. Most gyms have them tucked into a corner, unclean and unloved but once you use them, you’ll never let them go. Or you could buy your own,
See was that so bad?
Fundamental Human Movements
When you read a contract for the first time, do you turn straight to the fine print? No, of course not, unless you like all that legal mumbo jumbo. Starting at the beginning is easier.
But when it comes to getting in shape, people often overlook simple and jump straight to complicated. Exercises that are simple and easy to follow will help you be more consistent.
However, exercise is overwhelming for people wanting to get fit and healthy. So where do you start? You start by keeping it simple.
Dan John (my idol) has broken down exercise into six fundamental human movements, which are
Although there are a ton of other moves, sticking with the fundamentals will make your exercise less complicated and easier to stick with.
And these exercises are great for the gym but if you really hate resistance training (like my wife) make sure you get these movements in, whether you are doing yoga, yardwork or even Zumba.
Because it all counts.
Take Movement Breaks
One of the biggest misconceptions about exercise is you need a lot at one time to see benefits.
But according to Dr Glenn Gaesser of Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University, doing three separate 10 minute workouts was much more effective than a single half-hour session in reducing high blood pressure.
“The fractionized exercise led to lower average 24-hour blood pressure readings,” Dr. Gaesser said.
Regardless of whether you have high blood pressure or not, doing 10 minutes of movement has great health benefits.
And when you stand up instead of sitting down for an extra 3 hours a day, you could burn over 30,000 calories during a year or 8 pounds of fat. That is nothing to sneeze at.
Here are some suggestions.
- If you’re feeling energized, you can use your household items to get a great training when you haven’t got time for the gym.
- You know that stack of laundry and dishes that need doing? They’re not going to clean themselves.
- Other household chores like vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms need to get done also. And you might earn brownie points with your partner.
- Outdoor activities like mowing the grass, weeding, watering, and clearing out the garden beds will raise a good sweat.
- Walk the dog or yourself for 10 minutes or more.
- Get your kids off their video games and go play catch, basketball or hide and seek.
If It Hurts Don’t Do It
Have you heard the saying “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?” If that sounds like the story of your life, please enjoy this song.
Yet in my experience with clients, friends and family, some continue to do the things that cause them pain, hoping by some miracle if they do it enough times it’ll stop hurting.
But it never does. And with our bodies being capable of so many movements, why get stuck on the ones that cause you pain? Please take a rest from the movements that cause pain and explore new ones that do not hurt.
Life and exercise is too enjoyable for pain to interrupt. So, if it hurts, do not do it.
Getting older is a blessing, no matter how many bad old age jokes you hear. And you can get away with little or no exercise while you’re young but once you are old, getting away with no exercise is harder.
Because exercise is so much more than vanity once you are over 50.
And those young people can take those old age jokes and shove it.
If you need a hand getting started you can pick up my free exercise program here.