Know what to do to adjust to your body and stay in shape
A funny thing happens on the way to 50 and beyond: Your body doesn’t respond to exercise as it did earlier in your life. Fatigue, muscle and joint pains and increased injuries seem to happen more.
Unfortunately, it’s not your imagination. It is a normal consequence of aging. In fact, some of the “standard” fitness rules no longer apply, at least not in the same way as they did in your 30s and even 40s. So the fitness and exercise rules change after 50, and here is how.
Old rule: Stretch a few days a week
New rule: Stretch after every workout, and then some
Stretching is no longer an option after 50. Staying flexible becomes more important as you age. Flexibility, because it’s related to collagenous tendons, which is a part of our lean body mass, starts to decrease. Since tendons that connect muscle to bone, the perfect time to stretch is after weight training. A total body stretch involving all major muscle groups a minimum of two to three times a week is best. This would ideally be done after each workout when muscles are warm.
“As we get older our muscles and joints become less flexible,” said Beaumont Health’s Roger Sacks, an exercise physiologist certified with the American College of Sports Medicine. “This lack of flexibility can impact our ability to reach, it can make us more prone to injury, and can make it difficult to move around.
“Never stretch a cold muscle/joint,” Sacks said. “Do some light walking, pedaling, jumping jacks, etc. to make the body warmer. A warm muscle will stretch easier.”
Stretch all major muscle groups, Sacks recommends. Thighs, hamstrings, calves, biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and chest. For people just starting a stretching routine, static stretches are the easiest to follow. This involves holding the stretch for 20-30 seconds. You should feel the muscle pulling, but it should not be painful. Old rule: Focus on cardio
New rule: Resistance training takes center stage
As I stated, fitness and exercise rules change after 50!
Bone density and muscle mass drop rapidly after 50, making resistance training a crucial part of a complete exercise program.
After the age of 50, we lose 0.5-1 percent of our muscle mass every year, Sacks said. “Over 60, this percentage is even greater,” he added. “A reduction in muscle mass can eventually lead to balance issues, difficulty going up and downstairs, problems getting out of chairs, and poor posture. Resistance training can help counteract this muscle loss. Resistance training can be any activity that improves strength and muscle mass. This includes weights, bands, machines, and body weight exercises.”
In addition to the link between muscle mass and metabolism — muscle burns more calories at rest than fat — increasing muscle and bone strength also prevents falls and fractures. You still need cardio, of course, for reducing heart disease risk, which accelerates after 50.
When lean mass – bone and muscle – increases, the war against belly fast begins. In addition, studies have shown a 20-minute bout of weight training enhances memory. Strive for eight to 12 repetitions per set, two to three times a week.
Sacks further offer these key points to consider:
- Only do resistance training on nonconsecutive days.
- Work major muscle groups(legs, back, chest, abs, biceps, triceps, shoulders, buttocks)
- Men and women should be doing resistance training
- Focus on proper lifting technique to avoid injury
- Remember to breathe out during the hardest part of the exertion(This minimizes blood pressure spikes and drops)
- As with stretching, always make sure to warm up prior to resistance training
Old rule: Slow and steady cardio is best
New rule: Use interval training to pump up the fat burn
Going for an easy stroll with a friend may be a good way to get fresh air, but it won’t do much for calorie burning. Continue cardio for its heart health benefits, but focus on intervals since interval training for 30 minutes versus moderate, continues exercise decreases belly fat. Moderate cardio does not.
Interval training involves alternate bouts of higher intensity cardio with “rest” or easier periods. Intervals create an “afterburner” effect called EPOC, which stands for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.” That’s a state in which your body continues to burn a higher rate of oxygen and calories after you’ve finished your workout. How many calories and for how long depends on the intensity of the intervals.
Additionally, some research shows that interval training can burn more calories during exercise, which in turn will lead to a higher percentage of fat calories burned, Sacks said.
“At low-intensity exercise, your body uses mostly fat calories,” he added. “At high-intensity exercise, the body uses mostly glucose or carbohydrates. Because interval training is a combination of moderate and high-intensity exercise, a greater percentage of fat and total calories are used.”
Old rule: Take one day in between each weight training workout
New rule: You may need longer than a day between workouts
Taking a day off in between workouts gives muscles time to recover, but you may need more recovery time after age 50. Tissue recovery takes more time and more effort to support that recovery. The exact amount of time depends on your fitness level.
How do you know when you’ve had enough rest? If you find soreness isn’t going away and is impacting your next workout this may indicate early signs of injury or no enough recovery time. Being unable to decrease your time or improve whatever markers you’re using to gauge progress may also indicate you need more recovery time.
Old rule: Warming up is an option
New rule: Always include a thorough warm-up
This increases circulation, raises heart rate and body temperature, prepares muscles for exercises. Warm-ups are particularly beneficial after 50 to mediate some of the changes that occur with aging, mainly decreased tendon elasticity.
So, hope you’re satisfied with this article about fitness and exercise rules change after 50! See you next time!
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