The Best Exercise Classes For Over 50s
I often get asked questions like this ‘what is the best exercise for [age group]’ or ‘what is the best exercise for [body part]’ or ‘what is the best exercise for [medical condition]’.
Those questions are very similar to asking 'what is the best car for the over 50's'. It depends so much on the individual it is impossible to answer. If you've read any of our fitness and exercise articles, these aren't broken up into age groups; they will tell you to do precisely the same thing as they would for people in their 30's and 40's.
What’s the best over 50s exercise?
If you want to know the best exercise for your age, you need to start by looking at yourself.
I am almost 50 years old, and I have worked in gyms and worked out all of my life. I can survive brutal spinning classes and weight sessions that would finish off the average 25-year-old. It is not about age, and it certainly isn't about chronological age.
I have covered fitness age in previous blogs, but to recap, it is a measure of your age based on various fitness metrics like flexibility and leg strength. This is a far better indicator than chronological age when it comes to longevity. So the question you should be asking is, 'what is the best workout for me?'
If, like me, you are strong and have good cardiovascular fitness, turning 50 probably isn't going to change the type of workouts you do. Listen to your body, concentrate on good form and adapt slowly to slight reductions in strength and fitness as you age.
There is no magic exercise for the over 50's; just do what you always did. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Exercise for beginners over 50
If you are 50 years old or older and new to exercise, my advice is the same as I would give to anyone beginning a new regime. Seek advice from your doctor, make sure there are no health concerns that might be made worse by exercise. If you have the all-clear, then do your homework. If you can, get a personal trainer to work with or at least create a routine for you, all the better.
Start slowly, don't destroy yourself on the first workout. Instead, concentrate on form, focus on the mind-body connection and strive to get better. Run a little bit faster or further over time, increase your weights in small manageable increments. Eat well and follow a balanced diet.
And if you need a little more encouragement, here are some of the benefits you can expect from exercising as you get older:
Benefits of exercise in later life
Maintaining a healthy weight
From middle-age onwards, it seems that keeping our weight down becomes more and more difficult. Most of us blame this on a decreasing metabolism, but there is more to it than that. Your metabolism will indeed slow over the years, but mid-to-late-life weight gain is related more to us being less active.
Let's face it; we are more likely to opt to use the lift rather than take the stairs and drive to the local supermarket rather than walk. This, coupled with the fact that most of our social encounters revolve around food (and larger portions of food), makes later-life weight gain feel almost inevitable.
We don't have to work out five days a week for hours to maintain a healthy weight and physique. However, by being a little more mindful of what we eat and engaging in light exercise, we can keep our weight at a healthy level.
Improving our thinking skills
When we talk about exercise, we often use the phrase 'get the blood pumping'. When we work out, we send blood to both our brains and the muscles we are using.
Aerobic exercise improves cognitive thinking, and muscle training has a significant impact on our brain's executive functions (the brain's ability to organise and plan).
Positively impacting our mental health
Another benefit of exercising in later life is the positive impact it has on our mental health. The chemical changes in our brain that take place when we exercise can change our mood. So when we are feeling a little grumpy, hitting the gym can make us feel better.
Not to mention that exercise can help boost self-esteem and self-confidence and allow us to connect with others, which has a positive impact on our mental health.
A great way to make friends
Last but by no means least, joining a gym and attending regular classes is a great way to make new friends, meet like-minded people or people that can positively challenge our thinking and make keeping fit even more enjoyable.
The bottom line
There is no one size fits all workout for any two people, so to try and suggest there is a workout that suits an entire age bracket is nonsense. You are not a number! Unless you are 007, who wouldn't want to be 007 :)
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