Exercising Safely Over the Age of 50
By Paul Rothbart
Exercise is one of the most important components of a healthy and happy lifestyle. Risk of injury is a factor, particularly for those who have reached the half century mark. So, how can the older (and hopefully wiser) crowd stay in shape without getting hurt?
Ease Into It
While good advice for anyone, it is especially important for older folks to start out slowly if they have not exercised regularly for a while. A beginning swimmer doesn't jump into the English channel. Start with something easy such as walking 15 to 20 minutes a day. This will strengthen the cardiovascular system and the legs and prepare the body for more rigorous exercise. Riding a stationary bike or light calisthenics (no extreme sports, leave those to the kids) are also great ways to start. Regular training is the best way to go. Exercising sporadically will just have you starting from scratch time and time again. Find a schedule that works for you. Many people like to exercise six days a week with a day off for rest.
The best benefits will be obtained by exercising the body in multiple ways. As already mentioned, cardio is important. Strength training with light to moderate weights will tone muscle and maintain bone mass. This is vital to the health of seniors. Balance is very important to those over 50. Hiking over easy to moderate trails is a great way to combine cardio and balance training. Don't forget to stretch. This should be done both before and after exercise and on its own, a stretching regimen will help keep the muscles loose, limber and flexible.
Avoid These Exercises
While there are many different exercises from which to choose, there are some that should be avoided by those who have received birthday number 50. Low repetition sets with heavy weights are a no-no. They place far too much stress on the joints and tendons. Keep to the 10-rep sets. Overhead presses such as the military press are brutal on the shoulders. Rotator cuff injuries are much more common over the age of 60. Stick with lateral dumbbell raises. Be careful with sprinting or plyometric exercises. While these are good for building fast-twitch muscle fibers and speed, they increase the risk of muscle pulls and tears as well as other lower body injuries in older bodies. You've been running for decades. Time to take it slow.
Regular exercise is important at any age, but even more so when approaching the golden years. Older bodies can be strong and fit, but precautions must be taken to avoid injury. Take it slow, ease into it and avoid anything that puts heavy stress on joints and muscles. And have some fun while working out.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Albuquerque, N.M.