To choose an appropriate exercise program at age 50, evaluate your current fitness level and take any health concerns you have into consideration. Even if you can only exercise for 10 minutes at a time initially, you can build your endurance and improve your fitness one workout at a time. Regular aerobic exercise protects your health, helps manage current health conditions, contributes to weight management and boosts your physical stamina.
Aerobic exercise recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association apply to healthy adults up to age 65. The guidelines promote at least 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise per week and encourage daily 30-minute sessions. If you haven't been physically active recently, start with shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes and increase the duration by 10 to 15 percent per week until you reach the 30-minute target. If you opt for higher intensity exercise, work up to 20 minutes at least three days a week to meet the minimum recommendation.
Although 30 minutes of moderate exercise is generally safe for 50-year-olds, chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease and osteoporosis, that require routine medical care and treatment may make modifications necessary, says the American College of Sports Medicine. Shorter sessions of cardiovascular exercise provide the same health benefits as one continuous 30-minute workout, as long as you stay active for at least 10 minutes at a time. If you have chronic health problems, defer to your doctor's recommendation for cardiovascular exercise options, intensity and duration.
Aerobic exercise is generally classified as moderate or vigorous activity. Running, swimming laps, cycling at speeds higher than 10 mph and jumping rope, for example, count as vigorous intensity. Examples of moderate cardiovascular exercise include walking, hiking, dancing and golf. Depending on your fitness level and health issues, however, activities classified as moderate-intensity exercises may require vigorous effort, qualifying them as high-intensity activities. On a scale of one to 10, moderate exercise ranks about a five or six in terms of perceived exertion. Slow down your walk or ease off the intensity of other activities, if necessary, to achieve the desired exertion.
Going beyond the minimum exercise recommendation produces more significant health benefits, including additional help with weight management. If you're in good health and have your doctor's approval, 300 minutes or more of moderate cardiovascular exercise can help you reduce your risk for developing chronic health conditions, as well as help you lose weight or maintain your weight. That means working up to 60 minutes of continuous activity five days a week or breaking up your workouts into 10 sessions at 30 minutes each throughout the week.