“It matters not how long we live but how.” - Philip James Bailey
So you’ve decided to exercise more but you’re wondering if it’s still a good idea as you’re in your 50s. Before you do anything, speak to your doctor. Only they can tell you how you should be exercising and which activities you should avoid. In this article, we’re looking at what a typical workout session for older people is like.
We’ll be considering a light workout session that includes strength training, cardio, and working on your balance, flexibility, and joints. In almost any situation, your sessions will start and end the same way whether you’re hiking, doing martial arts, or gymnastics.
Step 1: Warming Up
No matter what condition you’re in, you need to warm up before doing any exercise. Your body will be stiffer in your 60s than in your 30s so it’ll take more time to get it roadworthy. Warming up prepares your muscles and joints for the exercise they’re about to do and can help avoid soreness and injury.
Even before light exercise, you should warm up and pay particular attention to the parts of your body that will do the most work.
Here’s an example of a 10-minute warm-up that you can do from the comfort of your own home. If you need help with any of these, you can always contact a personal trainer or coach.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, place your hands on your hips and start rotating one foot at the ankle. Then do the same with the other foot.
- Next, place your hands on your knees with your back straight. Flex and extend your legs ten times.
- Place your hands back on your hips and push your pelvis forwards then backwards ten times to warm up the joints. You can then do 5 rotations with your pelvis and another 5 in the opposite direction.
- Place your hands on your shoulders and rotate your shoulder joints 5 times forwards and 5 times backwards.
- Put your hands back on your hips and turn your head to the right and then to the left. Then do the same upwards and downwards.
- Stretch your arms out to the sides and then bend sideways to touch the side of your knee on the same side.
Make sure you warm up each part of your body before any exercise.
Step 2: The Exercises
The activity or sport you do will depend on your level and fitness. Nevertheless, you’ll have warmed up first.
We recommend opting for activities that include strength training, cardio, balance, and flexibility. You could even choose four different activities.
Strength training is an important part of staying fit and healthy. However, if you’ve never done anything like this before, it’s a good idea to attend classes or get help from a coach or trainer. A private fitness coach will put together sessions that work for you. You can find personal trainers on our website. Strength training can tone muscle.
Working on your joints is a good idea since as you age, you tend to stiffen up. Similarly, this can reduce the risk of arthritis. It’s immobility that causes arthritis.
- Shoulders: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and stretch your back. Tilt your head upwards and pull your jaw back slightly. Look straight ahead. Lift your arms to shoulder height by your sides with your palms pointing towards the floor. As you breathe in, push out your chest and move your arms backwards while keeping your shoulders down. Hold this position for 15 seconds as you take deep breaths. Do this three times.
- Knees: Lie on a floor mat with your knees bent and your arms by your side. Pull one leg upwards with both hands. Keep your back on the floor and hold this position for 20 seconds while taking deep breaths. To get more out of this stretch, point your toes not just downwards but towards you. Change legs and do this again.
- Back: You’ll need two chairs facing one another. Sit on one and open your legs. Bend forwards and place your forearms on the opposite chair. Keep your back straight. Take a deep breath and as you exhale push the chair away from you to stretch out your back. Your arms should be stretched outwards and you should be facing the floor. Hold this for 20 seconds.
Much like with strength training, we recommend doing cardio under supervision, especially if you have any conditions. Cardio will make you feel better, improve your endurance, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cardio can include:
- Jogging on the spot
- Jumping jacks
- Side steps
- Butt kicks/bum to heels/heel-to-butt
- Knee raises
- Jumping from leg to leg
- Jumping on the spot
To avoid falls and injuries that are common at a certain age, you can work on your balance. Make sure that you take it easy at first and get supervision if you need it. It’s a good idea to do a lot of the exercises near a chair or wall so you can use them for support. Try:
- Standing on one leg
- Standing on tip-toes
- Going from tip-toes to your heels and back again
- Lifting your leg to touch your knee with the opposite hand
- Walking in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
Step 3: Cooling Down and Stretching
After exercising, especially strength training or cardio, you must stretch and cool down. 5 to 10 minutes should reduce soreness after exercising.
- Sit on a chair and stretch out one leg with your toes pointing upwards. Breathe in while moving your hand towards the foot on your outstretched leg. Hold this for a few seconds and then do the same with the other leg.
- Lie on your back on a mat on the floor. Bend your leg and grab your knee to pull it towards your chest. Keep your other leg on the floor. Breathe deeply as you hold this for a few seconds before changing legs.
- Lie down. Bend your left leg. Put your hand under your right thigh and bend your right leg. Place your left hand under your right heel and place your right foot on your left leg by your knee. To get more out of this stretch, you can grab your left knee and pull your left leg towards you. Hold this position for a few seconds before changing legs.
- Stand up and stretch your arms by reaching upwards with your together. Stretch your intercostal muscles by bending to one side and then the other. Lower your head and push your arms outwards in front of yourself.
Never do an exercise if you experience any sharp pains. Of course, some discomfort is normal. However, it’s not normal to feel intense pain when you do exercise. If this is the case, stop immediately and talk to your doctor.
Now you should know a little more about exercising well into old age. You can start looking for a coach!
If you need help maintaining a fitness routine, consider working with a private fitness instructor or personal trainer. You can find plenty of them on the Superprof website so start looking today. There are different types of training available so think carefully about what would work best for you, your fitness, your lifestyle, and your budget.
One-on-one coaching sessions can be tailored to you and you'll have the coach's attention every minute of the session. This is particularly useful as it allows you to try exercises that you wouldn't otherwise be able to do yourself safe in the knowledge that the coach is there to stop you from doing it wrong. While often the most costly type of coaching, face-to-face coaching is the most cost-effective.
Group coaching sessions are great for those on a tight budget. They're also a good idea because you'll have other people to spur you on and keep you motivated throughout the session. This is a great way to exercise and socialise at the same time.
Don't forget that a lot of the coaches on Superprof offer the first session for free so try a few of them out before deciding on which one is right for you.