10 Ways to Stay Fit After 50
1. Rethink your idea of exercise.
Trying to stay fit after 50 can be intimidating if your idea of exercise is only those heart-pounding, high-energy workouts. According to Harvard Medical School, there are many different activities that count as exercise that you probably haven’t even thought of. Things like moderate housework (like sweeping and vacuuming), gardening, ballroom dancing, and canoeing also help get your heart rate up and bring on the health benefits.
2. Go to group fitness classes.
One of the best ways to encourage yourself to work out is to sign up for a group fitness class. Many studios even offer free or discounted trial periods, making it easy to figure out where you feel most comfortable and which types of workouts you enjoy. After you start attending classes regularly, you’ll get into a routine—and maybe even make some new friends along the way.
3. Eat more plant-based meals.
Staying fit means filling your body with wholesome foods that improve your health and wellbeing—and evidence suggests that plant-based sources might be best. One 2019 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that sticking to a plant-based diet can decrease your heart failure risk by more than 40 percent. Another study published in 2019 in The Journal of Nutrition found vegans tend to be healthier than those who follow other diets. So ditch the processed meat and sugar and fill your plate high with fruit, veggies, whole grains, and plant-based protein instead.
4. Chat with your doctor about your fitness.
Regular doctors appointments benefit your health during every stage of your life, but it’s especially important to keep up with them in your 50s. “Be sure to talk about heart health and exercise with your doctor,” says Michael James, a trainer at the boxing gym EverybodyFights. “They’ll let you know exactly what you can and cannot do based on your current health and any medications you may be on.”
5. Cut back on salt.
It’s hard to resist super-salty snacks, but it’s time to start practicing a little more self-control. According to the Cleveland Clinic, as you get older, you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure due to your changing blood vessels. That puts you at higher risk for everything from a stroke and heart attack to kidney disease and death. To lower your risk of high blood pressure, cut down on salt—especially the high amounts of sodium in processed foods—so you can stay fit and healthy for years to come.
6. Drink enough water.
Think of water as your body’s fuel. If you’re not getting enough, how is it supposed to run correctly? The Mayo Clinic says water helps your body control temperature, protect sensitive tissues, lubricate and cushion your joints, and aid in digestion—all things you might need extra help with as you age. For men, that means getting at least 3.7 liters of fluids a day, and for women that means 2.7 liters of fluids a day—more so if you’re exercising, since you need to replace lost fluids.
7. Go for a dip.
One of the most beneficial workouts you can do in your 50s is swimming. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it works your entire body and protects your joints from stress and strain because of how low-impact it is. One 2017 study from national swimming association Swim England also found that swimmers have a 28 percent lower risk of early death. Plus, being in and around the water can help you release built-up stress and tension that can take a toll on your mental health.
8. Walk as much as you can
As you get older, it’s easy to get lazier. Instead of walking those two blocks to the store, you decide it’s a better idea just to drive. Well, put down those car keys. Every day, make it one of your top priorities to be more active in any way you can. One of the easiest is making sure you’re walking whenever possible. Extra bonus: You’ll reach your daily step goals in the process.
9. Use a vibration plate.
If you haven’t utilized the vibration plate at your local gym yet, you’ll want to start now. According to the Mayo Clinic, this workout-enhancing machine transmits energy to your body as it vibrates, which in turn makes your muscles contract and relax multiple times per second. As little as 15 minutes of body-weight exercises on the plate a day can provide serious benefits.
“It has been shown to increase bone and muscular development in older people,” says Dr. Neil Paulvin, D.O., an integrated medicine physician in New York City. In addition, it could also help with weight loss, burning fat, and improving flexibility.
10.Try Tai chi.
Tai chi is one of the gentlest forms of exercise you can do, making it a top choice for all ages and fitness levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, the gentle, flowing movements don’t just help better your body physically by increasing your muscle strength and definition, flexibility, and balance—it also improves your energy levels and mood, as well as decreases stress, anxiety, and depression.