Middle age (and beyond) is more of a mind concept than anything else. Still, you can’t deny that physical activity gets harder to keep up with as you age. Women start to lose about five percent of their muscle mass in their 30s, and this percentage rises again in their 60s, according to Prevention. This makes exercise and physical activity even more important. Read on for ways to keep fit and have fun at the same time.
Swimming is perfect for over-50 bodies because it is low-impact, which limits the stress put on joints and bones, and it’s aerobic, which works out the heart muscle. If you find you get bored with swimming laps, do some of the same exercises you would do on land. Try knee-high jogging in place, squat jumps, jumping jacks and flutter kicks. Water exercise burns as many calories as land-based exercise, claims Fitness. For example, treading water for one minute burns 11 calories, which is more than running 6 mph for a minute. If you’re still getting bored, join a water exercise class for some fun and socialization.
Another benefit of swimming is that it requires pretty minimal gear. All you need is a pool large enough to swim around in and a swimsuit. A good pair of goggles, nose clips, ear plugs and flippers also can help you get back into your groove. The best thing about exercising in water, though, is that you won’t sweat.
Strength Training on Dry Land
If you prefer dry land, look for targeted strength exercises to increase or preserve your muscle mass. Some good exercises include:
- Chair squats: These work the major lower body muscles, including the glutes. The lower you squat, the more resistance your body provides.
- Lateral/Front raises: Use weights or small dumbbells to build up your shoulders and major deltoid muscles.
- Push-ups: These tone the chest and the back of the arms. Use dumbbells if pushing up from the floor strains your wrists.
- Rowing: This can correct or prevent a hunched-over posture by strengthening your back. Rowing can be done from a seated position on the floor or standing.
Round Out Exercises with Yoga
Finally, there’s yoga. Since you have an AARP card, check out the website (www.aarp.org) to find yoga classes in your area for people over 50. You may already be doing yoga and not even know it. Whether it’s stretches or balancing exercises, it’s all yoga and it’s helping you stretch your muscles and improve your balance.
AARP gives three reasons for practicing yoga in your 50s: lessening hypertension, strengthening bones and focusing on wellness. The article cites a study from the Journal of Clinical Hypertension that states that yoga reduces systolic blood pressure by 33 points for participants that did yoga for six hours a week. It also explains that because yoga is a weight-bearing activity, it slows bone thinning, which helps prevent osteoporosis.
Best of all, yoga helps your muscles be prepared for your other workouts.