Whether you’ve been a fitness fanatic in the past or not, you can still improve your fitness in your fifties. Lots of people wrongly think they are ‘over the hill’ when it comes to physical exercise at this age. And there are lots of reasons to feel that way. The body goes through a lot of changes at this time, especially for women. The menopause can contribute to physical and mental feelings of being old. But you’re not, and you certainly don’t have to be that way!
Over the age of fifty, your body is indeed a little more delicate than it might once have been. Bone density can decrease, although this is primarily a concern for women going through hormonal changes. Many of us tend to be carrying more fat on our bodies at this age too. This is also a lot to do with menopause but can also be largely a part of changes in lifestyle. Our children no longer require us to run around after them, so we have slowed down somewhat.
Aches and pains start to become more common in the joints at this age. These could be a sign of rheumatism or arthritis, but this is not always the case. Instead, you might be aching because you are not using the joints or supporting their movement with toned muscle. This can be improved with regular daily exercise. Stretching movements such as those done in T’ai Chi or Yoga are very good for aging bodies. They are gentle and can be built up gradually.
More vigorous exercise like brisk walking or jogging is not beyond you at this age. Again, it is important to start slowly. Moderate walking for short distances can be increased slightly every few days. You might not be able to improve and recover as quickly as you did in your twenties, but you can still increase your fitness and stamina. Just take it in smaller, more gentler increments.
If you find you are coughing a lot or generating lots of mucus, these could be symptoms of COPD. While exercise can alter your breathing, it’s best to check with the doctor if you are worried. Symptoms that don’t go away once you are resting are usually a cause for concern. If any symptoms are preventing you from undertaking gentle exercise, speak to your doctor.
Muscle strength is important as we age to support a good posture. Poor posture can lead to discomfort and pain. Muscles also need to be supple to allow you a full range of movement. Keep muscles warm when you exercise to reduce the risk of energy. Allow for a longer warm up as you get older too. This helps to ensure the circulation is good to the areas of the body you are using.
Once you are over the age of 50, you may already be thinking about retiring or reducing your work hours. Your children may have left home. This gives you the ideal opportunity to spend some time looking after your body. It is possible to increase your fitness and stamina well into retirement age. Look after your health and enjoy your body, whatever your age.