Exercise for the over-50s – What you need to know

As we get older, exercise is essential to help our bodies remain fighting fit. Here are some top tips on how to stay physically active over the age of fifty.

First of all, ANY exercise is a good thing.

This can be anything from jogging, cycling, aerobics, pilates, yoga,  zumba and perhaps even the gym, right through to simply standing up from a chair 50 times a day for some people ,if you are currently very sedentary. The type of exercise and the degree of intensity is related to what you can do currently and not necessarily your age.

If you haven't done any exercise for years, then start gently and build up gradually. If you're exercising for the first time or are unsure if you should try a particular activity, talk to your GP first.

Experts recommend thirty minutes of moderate exercise a day at least five times a week. It can be all in one half- hour session, or split into three periods of ten minutes or in smaller bouts of activity throughout your day.

A good starting point may be to begin with a short five-minute brisk walk in your local park.  Then build up gradually, increasing slowly to the full 30 minutes over a number of weeks. Walking is great for your health and there are walking groups open to different ages around the country. Walking is also a very good exercise for fat burning, as low intensity exercise like this has a much higher fat burning efficiency compared to high intensity exercise like running, where carbs are preferentially used for energy.

As you get more familiar and more confident exercising, then you can think about extending the exercise and also ramping up its intensity.

This could include anything from going to a zumba class, jogging, cycling, doing aerobics, going down to the gym etc. These activities will make a real difference to your life, not only in how you feel all round, but also how much good it will do to your overall health.

Types of Exercise

There are basically three areas that we need to think about…..and you will need to cover at all three types.

a/ Aerobic exercise

This is about expanding your lungs and breathing hard, which is great for the heart and the whole cardio-vascular system in its entirety. It’s so important to push our bodies on a daily basis to ensure that our heart and lungs work hard or they will simply start losing their effectiveness with time and eventually this can lead to chronic conditions such as hypertension(high blood pressure), high cholesterol and cardiovascular issues such as heart failure and strokes.

b/ Resistance Exercise

This is simply the technical term for weight bearing exercises. This can be a visit to the local gym where you can use a whole variety of machines to stress your muscles or it could be using your own body against gravity such as squats, sit ups etc.

And don't think that older people don't go to gyms….they do and in their droves nowadays, as people are starting to realise that they need to look after their own bodies. They are taking responsibility themselves to do this and all credit to them for doing this.

I am seeing more and more over 60s and over 70s visiting their gyms on a regular basis and these people really do look great for their age too. Also they are inhibiting age related ailments at the same time, as they continue to exercise on a regular basis.

c/ Suppleness

We all get stiffer as we age. Some of us will just have stiff joints, others will have sore joints and others may have arthritis itself., a very common ailment.

One thing is certain however, and that is that we must continue to move and use our joints daily and also stretch our muscles too, in order to maintain as much movement as possible. If we don't do this, we will end up getting stiffer quicker and probably inducing more joint problems and with it more pain.

If you do decide to stretch then take advise from any health care professional or even a personal trainer , which will know exactly what stretches are best for your particular age and ability.


Good luck and keep active!