Regular exercise is one of the fundamental pillars to healthy ageing. Research evidences that physical exercise has huge mind and body benefits across all ages but particularly for the over 50’s, not only strengthening and boosting flexibility, core muscles, balance and cardio health but also cognitive functioning and mental agility.
For over 50’s, staying active and doing some form of exercise frequently will undoubtedly improve overall health. From avoiding chronic diseases to simply feeling more empowered in your body, prioritizing fitness over 50 will help provide you with a higher quality of life.
But with a tidal wave of articles and research saying fitness over 50 is important, what actually are the best exercises and workouts for over 50’s?
That’s what we’re here to answer now!
With so many options, it can be overwhelming and unclear where to begin. So… we decided to highlight everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide.
Here at fitness drum, we like to think being fit over 50 comes down to 3 core elements: strength, balance and flexibility. If you can improve these 3 core elements of your fitness, you will be well on your way to feeling fitter and healthier than ever before.
Lifting weights is one of the most of the effective way of building muscle and improving strength. It shouldn’t be solely reserved for the stereotypically muscley gym-goer and instead is something everyone should be incorporating into their fitness routine.
From barbells and dumbbells to resistance bands, they all force your muscles to work hard to lift or move the resistance or weight that’s being applied to them.
For over 50’s, the secret to success is to start light, focus on controlled movements and ensure your form is correct. Once you get a bit more confident, you can start to increase the resistance or weight and start to progress your strength training.
Functional movements are also likely to play a more important role in your fitness as you age so compound exercises and full body routines are likely to be more effective. Some specific exercises to focus on include:
- Shoulder Press
- Bench Press
See our specific guides on strength training over 50 and getting started with weight lifting for over 50’s.
Kettlebell workouts offer a great alternative strength regime to traditional weight lifting or bodyweight exercises.
Kettlebell workouts offer a fantastic full body workout and not only develop explosive strength and power, but also pack a punch in terms of cardio-vascular benefits.
Our recent guide details the very best kettlebell exercises for over 50’s, including:
- Kettlebell swing
- Kettlebell Halo
- Single Arm Row
- Russian Twist
Bodyweight exercises are great for at-home workouts and anyone without access to fitness equipment.
Bodyweight exercises can be more than enough when it comes to building strength. Some worthwhile exercises include:
Calisthenics equipment is worth looking into for anyone who likes bodyweight training as this equipment is designed to enhance this style of working out.
Although swimming is usually praised for its cardio-vascular benefits, it can also be a great way to develop upper body strength. It is a very low impact activity and gentle on joints, often making it a popular form of exercise for over 50’s.
Front crawl and butterfly technique are likely to develop more explosive strength than other styles such as backstroke.
Discover our complete guide on swimming for over 50’s.
Tai Chi is a great form of exercise, providing both mental and physical benefits. It’s particularly useful for those looking for a gentle, low impact workout. It is relaxing and calming in nature, but don’t let that fool you, Tai Chi is very effective at improving a whole host of physical attributes.
One particular area we think Tai Chi is worth practicing is for better balance. Balance is so often ignored in our daily exercise routines, but it can play such a vital role in our overall mobility as we age.
It also helps improve flexibility as well as skills such as coordination.
Check out these beginner friendly Tai Chi movements.
Dancing is highly versatile and a great way to improve your fitness. From individual dancing exercises and workouts to joining official dance classes, there is something for everyone. Dancing can be high-intensive, energetic workouts that not only improve your fitness but are fun and enjoyable at the same time.
There can also be a great social aspect to activities like dance classes.
Zumba Gold is an example of a tailored dance class, specifically for over 50’s.
Hiking is another exercise that is perfect for all-round fitness. It develops muscular strength, particularly in the lower body, provides a great cardio-vascular workout, and it also helps hone in key skills like coordination and balance.
Hiking is great as it can be tailored for beginner level right up to advanced trekking. From local routes to ambitious trails around the world, hiking opens up not just a way to keep fit, but a way of life that is ideal for the adventurous type.
Check out our beginner guide to hiking in the UK and our favourite walking equipment to get started with.
It’s no surprise that balance training is a great way to improve your balance, but truth be told, how many of us are actively doing this sorts of exercises each week?
These balance training exercises are often simple, require no equipment or much space. Simply put, there’s often no excuses for not giving them a go!
To make things harder, try using a cushion or pad and follow some of our recommended balance pad exercises.
Pilates offers a gentle yet effective workout for anyone looking to get fit and healthy. The exercises are varied and often focus on core strength, flexibility and improving mobility.
Pilates is often recommended by physiotherapists to improve things like posture.
You’ll find both beginner and advanced Pilates classes, with some tailored to home workouts and others in a studio with equipment.
Yoga is where the mind, body and soul connect for a holistic workout. Although some yoga can be very relaxing and calming, don’t let that fool you, yoga can equally be very challenging and really force your muscles to work hard.
Yoga is great for all-round fitness and is ideal for those looking to improve strength and flexibility. The strength required in yoga is usually focused on bodyweight and functional movements which makes it very practical to benefit everyday life.
Stretching is useful for more than just warming up before exercise. Stretching in itself can be a great way to improve flexibility and help sore muscles recover.
Sitting all day often leaves us with stiff muscles and joints so a bit of regular stretching can go a long way. You can easily tailor stretching exercises for what you personally need. Perhaps you’ve got a sore lower back or maybe tight hamstrings, whatever is causing you problems, you can find a stretch to help.
By loosening up your muscles and joints and regaining your flexibility after 50, you will notice huge improvements in other areas of your fitness and life. For example, being more flexible will help develop better range of motion, which can help with lots of weight lifting exercises.
Over 50’s Workouts
Before doing any exercises, it’s important to warm-up. This is so important in terms of preparing your body for the strenuous work-out ahead. A good warm-up of five minutes involving some stretching and light cardio-vascular activity will increase your body temperature and blood flow thus reducing the risk of accidental injury.
Start by walking on the spot, building up to a light jog over five minutes. Swing your arms freely by your sides to maximise impact of your warm-up whilst simultaneously maintaining and improving balance.
If this is too much, begin seated with your back straight, both feet flat on the floor aligned with your hips, gaze straight ahead and try head, shoulder and arm rolls. Take these slowly and feel these movements kick-start your circulation and metabolism.
Follow with leg extensions, where you extend, raise and hold one leg for 5 seconds before slowly bringing it back down and repeating with the other leg. As you build up your core strength, you will be able to extend your leg more, raise it higher and hold in position for longer.
This easy warm-up regime will mean you are now ready to move on to different, more taxing and targeted exercises.
Over 50’s Workouts
The fitness drum platform has a whole host of features, including daily workouts you can follow along to, virtual challenges and reward points. Each time you complete your daily workout, you’re rewarded with points to keep you motivated. The in-app messaging functionality also means you can chat to your coach for extra motivation and support.