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Fitness for the Over-50 Crowd

By HERWriter
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Fitness related image Photo: Getty Images

We all hit our physical peak around 25. Then the slow decline begins.

Once into our 50's, we'll find ourselves reaping whatever we've been sowing. If we haven't been paying attention, we can lose 25 percent of our muscle strength by 65.

Active older persons have a better chance of being able to continue making their own decisions and living their own lives.

Fortunately you don't have to be an Xtreme sport hero into your 80's in order to stay fit. And fortunately, if you haven't been active, you don't have to grab your skateboard and launch yourself into the thick of things. You can start ... slowly.

In an April 2, 2011 article on seniorjournal.com, Mark Peterson, Ph.D., encouraged adults over 50 years of age to try resistance exercise to increase their lean muscle tissue and their strength. Peterson is a research fellow in the U-M Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research Laboratory at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Sedentary adults can lose 0.4 pounds of muscle every year after 50. But research from the U-M indicated that 18 to 20 weeks of progressive resistance training can build up 2.42 pounds of lean muscle and increase overall strength by 25 to 30 percent.

Peterson recommended exercises that use your body mass to work out. He suggested modified push-ups, lying hip bridges, squats and rising from a chair as well as tai chi, yoga and Pilates.

The National Institute of Health's Medline Plus exhorted older adults to get active to protect themselves from high blood pressure and heart disease. The goal is to raise your heart rate for half an hour a day.

Exercises to increase balance and strength are recommended. Light weights will prevent muscle and bone density loss.

Muscle strength can improve from just 8 weeks of resistance training, even in a 90 year old, according to sportsci.org.

Sedentary older adults can lose 10 cm of flexibility in the lower back and hips, eventually becoming unable to get up and about. Putting the main body joints through full range of motion every day can help.

Bone density loss can start in the 30's. For women, loss speeds up around menopause.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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