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7 Proven Tips for Getting Fit Over 50

Once you hit your fiftieth birthday you must pay more close attention to your health and fitness. Increasing life expectancy means you still have many things to look forward to in life, but poor health can limit your ability to enjoy your later years. The risk of age-related illnesses increases past fifty, and heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes become serious risks. Maintaining fitness levels and healthy body weight can also increase energy levels and improve mood and a sense of wellbeing.

Self-belief and lack of confidence can be a barrier to getting fit over fifty, but it's never too late to start. It's a common myth that exercise and sports are for the younger generation. Some people also believe that you have to start fitness training early in life to get the health benefits. The truth is that even simple lifestyle changes and taking steps to get more active in later life can have real benefits.

The following tips will help you to get fit over fifty.

1) Be realistic about what you can achieve.

Stories of sixty-year-olds running marathons and climbing mountains are inspirational, but they're usually the result of years of training. If you have any history of illnesses or medical conditions, it's worth consulting an expert before undertaking rigorous physical activity. Gentle exercise such as walking or swimming is a good place to start if you haven't exercised regularly for several years. Consider your current fitness level before setting any ambitious goals.

2) Find an activity you enjoy.

Most people struggle with motivation when it comes to fitness training. If you find a form of exercise you enjoy, you're far more likely to stick at it and reap the benefits. When it comes to fitness in later life, it doesn't have to involve punishing gym workouts or long sessions on exercise machines. Hiking, dancing, and swimming are just some of the activities you could take part in to increase your heart rate and burn some excess calories.

3) Make it social.

Forms of exercise with a social element can be easier to commit to, as you can make new friends as well as getting fit. You can also benefit from encouragement from others and share tips and ideas with like-minded people. Joining a running club, taking up pilates classes or signing up for dancing lessons are great ways for seniors to boost mood and energy levels.

4) Include weight and resistance training.

Strength training has a range of benefits for seniors. Muscle mass naturally reduces with age, but the process can be reversed with regular weight training. Any form of resistance training that activates the muscles can help. Kettlebells and resistance bands are a great replacement for traditional weights, so you don't have to join a gym to build muscle. Bone strength and joint flexibility can also be improved by gentle resistance training.

5) Track your progress.

Fitness apps and smartwatches are great tools for monitoring your progress when you commit to improving your fitness. As well as recording your heart rate and speed these devices can calculate your VO2 max. This is a measurement of the amount of oxygen your body can process during exercise. By tracking your VO2 max levels over time you can see clear evidence of improvements in your fitness. A simple journal to record how far you walk or run each week is another way to monitor your progress.

6) Fuel your body.

If you increase your level of physical activity, you need to adjust your diet to fuel your body correctly. Carbohydrates are often viewed as a cause of obesity, but they are the best source of energy for exercise. Foods containing sugar and refined grains are the potential problem, and not all carbohydrates are created equal. Focus on fiber-rich foods including bananas, oats, oranges and apples for maximum nutritional value. Sources of protein should also be included in your diet to feed muscle mass.

7) Include rest days in your fitness plan.

A successful fitness regimen must include rest days. This is particularly important for seniors, as the body can take longer to recover in later life. Rest days give your muscles time to heal and grow, and this reduces fatigue and the risk of injury. Depending on your activity levels, you should take at least two or three days to rest a week. More gentle forms of exercise such as walking or yoga are good for keeping active without putting too much strain on your body during rest days.

Seniors who are sedentary, overweight, and unfit are prone to illness and have reduced life expectancy. Improving fitness and getting in shape is worth the effort and maybe easier than you think.

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