Updated: Jan 6, 2020
Staying in shape becomes all-important in your fifties.
For those who have been reluctant exercisers previously, the goal is to be in better shape than you were in your thirties and forties. For those of you who reach your fifties with a good foundation of fitness, the goal should be to maintain what you’ve developed. You’re unlikely to be breaking the personal bests you hit in your twenties and thirties, but you can still keep up a rigorous training routine, allowing you to lead a healthy and pain-free life.
RATE OF REPAIR
It’s important to be realistic though. In your fifties and beyond, your body can’t endure, recover or repair at the rate it used to. What’s more, during the first five years after menopause – unless you actively do something about it – you’ll lose one to two per cent of your bone mass every year because you’re losing oestrogen.
But there’s plenty you can do. In fact, Professor Norbert Bachl, director of the Austrian Institute of Sports Medicine, says, ‘Athletes with no related illness or other risk factors, can train at maximum load and perform serious sport when over 60.’ He does, however, advise a solid basis of endurance training and an annual sports medical check-up if you train that seriously.
Others can still work hard. ‘Your power and health benefit from loading your body up to 80 per cent of can still make significant improvements that will stand you in great stead going forward. Couple this with daily movements, such as walking or swimming, and some mobility work, and you’ll have a formula that keeps you younger than your years.
A study by Wayne Westcott, PhD, fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA, shows that twice-a-week strength training is as effective as three weekly sessions and highly productive for developing strength over the age of 50.
TIPS FOR YOUR 50'S AND BEYOND...
MAKE A COMMITMENT
As you age, motivation to stay in shape is often higher than in your earlier years. Wanting to remain physically independent and robust provides you with a clear purpose, making it easier for you to prioritise and make a firm commitment to your training. Joining a club with like-minded people is a great way to keep you accountable and committed.
Strength is the foundation of all physical qualities and will play a big role in how your posture develops, how good your balance is, and how physically active you can remain in later life. You don’t need to be aiming for gym personal bests, but the more strength you have, by keeping up with structured exercise and staying physically active in daily life, the better.
DIAL IN YOUR RECOVERY
There is no doubt that as you get older, your body can tolerate intense exercise less frequently than in your twenties. That’s not to say that you can’t push yourself still; you just need to pay more attention to recovery and regeneration – make sure you get enough sleep, keep well hydrated and eat the most nutritious food you can.
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