Fitness and weight training at midlife is crucial for staying active, vital and healthy, but the exercise routines must be modified to accommodate an aging body. You have a different body now in your 40s and 50s than you did in your 20s and 30s and it must be respected by training it differently. The good news is that it will respond enthusiastically to proper exercise and propel you through midlife into the golden years beyond.
Look at Low Impact
Your middle-aged body may not tolerate the rigors of long distance running and exercises that require too much jumping. If your knees, hips and lower back have been subjected to years of wear and tear, running and jumping only serve to exacerbate joint pain. Begin your new training routine with low-impact exercises. Gentler, less jarring forms of cardiovascular exercise include water aerobics, elliptical training, biking and group indoor biking. Treadmills may be a good option if they are cushioned and flexible, allowing you to walk at a fast clip and adjust the incline for an even better workout. When you pick up the pace and begin running, start by keeping the run short to get your heart rate up and alternate running with fast walking.
Strength Training for Bones and Muscles
Strength training preserves and increases muscle mass, which is necessary for preventing sarcopenia, the loss of muscle that occurs at an accelerated rate as you age. It also prevents and actually reverses osteoporosis because bone is a living tissue that responds to resistance exercises. Performing weight training exercises with proper form and working all major muscle groups in a balanced fashion is essential to prevent injury and can also stave off postural problems that are a tell-tale sign of aging.
Stretch Those Tight Muscles
As we age, our muscles tend to shorten and contract, which leads to stiffness and limited range of motion. Stretching all your muscles, particularly the sore, tight ones on a daily basis can provide relief and prevent future injury. Just a few minutes a day of stretching in the privacy and comfort of your own home is often enough to make a big difference in your flexibility and mobility. Yoga is another option that can be done at home or in a class setting. Use caution and stretch gently, because over-stretching can lead to injuries.
Hire a Professional.
A personal trainer who specializes in training mid-life adults can teach you proper techniques and set you up with an appropriate, well-rounded fitness program. As you adapt to the program and your muscles get stronger, a trainer can then change your routine to prevent boredom and keep your body and muscles progressing.
Do It Right
Fitness and weight training routines are not without risk, but the benefits of exercise done properly far outweigh any risks. Mid-life injuries take much longer to heal, so take it slow and do it right. Learn from the professionals who are educated in anatomy and kinesiology and can work around any preexisting conditions you may have.
According to the Harvard Gazette, 60 minutes of physical activity done at a moderate intensity is required each day for middle-aged women to maintain weight over an extended period. Brisk walking is an example of moderate intensity physical activity. Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise keeps you fit as you grow older.
- Harvard Gazette: 60 Minutes of Exercise Needed Per Day
- Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- Program Design for Personal Trainers; Douglas S. Brooks