Exercise Advice for the Over 50’s

Who said there has to be an age limit on starting your health and fitness journey? Regardless of age, there are numerous benefits to working on your wellbeing. By staying active later in life, you vastly lower the chances of developing a range of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, and other mental illnesses. Not only will exercise benefit your mental health but focusing on flexibility becomes more important as we age, it will help to lessen the risk of falls and subsequent injuries by keeping your joints and muscles strong. Of course, staying active helps you to stay social and mobile, elevating all the positive aspects of your lifestyle as you get older.

So, let’s take a look at a range of exercises that over 50’s can incorporate into their routine which can support an active lifestyle later into life… It will include a variety of exercise styles, including aerobic and cardio exercise, balance, strength, and mobility.

Whilst at VR Leisure we encourage you to incorporate all elements of the above styles of exercise don’t push yourself to do workouts you don’t feel comfortable with! Instead, focus on the types of exercise you can enjoy and be consistent with them. Perhaps you enjoy walking or cycling? Then focus on that Be sure to create a routine you know you can stick to!

Moreover, it’s critical to avoid forcing yourself beyond your ability too quickly! If until this point you’ve been inactive, then start at a lighter intensity and frequency before gently increasing. If your body doesn’t feel ready to push to the next level, then simply focus on maintaining a regular exercises routine!

How much exercise should you be doing as an older adult?

NHS guidelines suggest that adults over the age of 65 should aim to be physically active every day. Aiming to get the blood pumping for 150 minutes weekly or roughly 20 minutes a day. This included moderate-intensity exercises such as a brisk walk, tennis, cycling or water aerobics, or 75 minutes (just over 10 minutes a day) of vigorous-intensity exercises such as jogging, dancing, fast swimming, or uphill hiking. How you choose to meet your targets is up to you! Either split it out across the week in small increments or do a few longer workouts, nevertheless, it’s good to aim for at least a couple of exercise sessions a week!

What exercises are best for older adults?

It’s best to vary your exercise routine and include a range of techniques and types of movement, this will help strengthen the entire body whilst also helping to maintain a fresh and exciting exercise routine. Try to pick at least one from each of the following three sections several times a week.

Cardio and Aerobic Fitness

As mentioned above, this is any type of exercise that raises your heart rate and helps to improve the movement of oxygen around the body. This type of exercise will increase your energy expenditure and burn calories which can help to keep your weight under control whilst at the same time providing a wealth of other health and wellbeing benefits for both your body and mind, including releasing the body’s happy hormones, endorphins.

Examples of cardio and aerobic fitness include:

Brisk walking – If you’re just beginning with your health and fitness journey, then walking can be a great place to start! Not only is it an excellent opportunity to get some fresh air but it also improves cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness, preventing the risk of heart disease and strokes. Aim for between 2,000 to 9,000 steps a day (or more if you can). But remember, a little exercise is better than none – the important thing is to just keep going and go for a distance and pace that is comfortable for you!

Swimming – A great, beginner, low-impact exercise. Swimming puts less pressure on your joints, meaning you can push yourself hard for a few lengths or have a gentler swim for a longer amount of time. While you’re in the water you can also stretch and move in a variety of ways, including water aerobics, helping to boost your body health without too much impact.

Cycling – Yet another excellent, lower-impact aerobics option, you can enjoy cycling whilst taking in the sights outdoors or try the stationary bike at the gym if you don’t have a bike of your own.

Strength Exercises

The clues in the name, strength exercises focus on improving the capacity of your muscles and bones, helping to increase endurance and counteract any fragility that comes with aging. This variation of exercise reduces the risk of developing health issues such as osteoporosis and arthritis whilst also helping to improve your balance. Start by trying these exercises using just your body weight, as you improve, start introducing light weights and increase from there to see increased the benefits of increased strength.

Examples include:

Leg raises – A quick and simple exercise to do either at home or in the gym, excellent for targeting your glutes, hip flexors and lower back whilst also helping to improve balance. The exercise is simple, simply, stand up and, whilst leaning on the back of a chair for stability, slowly lift your right leg to the side, keeping your back straight and your toe facing forward. Don’t bend your leg or point your toe. Hold when you feel you have lifted as high as is comfortably possible before slowly lowering. Repeat several times on one leg, before doing the same with the other leg.

Squats – Squats are a firm favourite due to the fact they work more muscles in one movement than any other individual exercise. They’re a highly efficient way to target your legs, glutes, and lower back, whilst improving stabilisation, strength, and balance. You don’t need any equipment for this exercise although you can use weights later on as you improve your lower body strength.

To perform a squat, simply, stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, keep your back straight and bend your knees so you squat closer to the floor. Focus on sending your hips backward, as you don’t want your knees to be in front of foot level at any point. Aim to reach a point where your hips are just below your knees, or as low as you can comfortably go. Pause briefly, before slowly easing your way up to starting position by powering through your legs and feet.

Lunges – An ideal exercise for preserving and improving quadricep strength and working those hard-to-reach inner thigh muscles, this is another strength move that helps with balance and mobility. Stand with feet hip-width apart and keep a wall or chair nearby in case you need help with balance. Take one step forward with your right leg and lift your left foot until only your toes are on the floor. Keeping your body and back straight, lower your body and bend both legs until your left knee is just a few inches from the floor. Hold for a moment before slowly returning to start position.

Balance and Flexibility:

There are many crossovers between strength, balance, and flexibility exercises, as many of the moves you’ll make in each have similar benefits. However, where the former focuses on boosting the strength of your muscles and bones, the latter focuses more on stretching and improving circulation and blood flow. These sorts of workouts can help to prevent falls and injuries by keeping your joints healthy. While you can do many stretches at home by yourself, you can also head to VR Leisure to try some classes – that way you’ll boost your flexibility in a fun and sociable environment under the guidance of expert teachers!

Examples include:

Yoga – A gentle, low impact style of exercise, yoga focuses on holding a series of postures and stretches, while devoting time to thinking about relaxation and breathing. It’s a soothing workout for your body and your mind, helping to reduce stress and improve overall health, while boosting your mobility and flexibility. Find out more about our yoga classes.

Pilates – Pilates shares similarities to yoga, although, Pilates focuses more closely on toning and strength using your own body weight, while also improving flexibility, balance, and movement. The moves here can relax tense muscles while boosting core strength.

Dynamic stretching – A low-intensity form of stretching that includes fluid movement rather than holding static stretches. These will lengthen your muscles and increase your circulation. Examples include arm swings, shoulder circles, leg swings and some of the strength exercises mentioned above such as squats and lunges.

Getting started on a fitness regime in later life may seem intimidating, but there’s plenty of help available for you at VR Leisure. Our friendly team will be able to show you a range of workouts and exercises that work best with your body and your goals!