Without a doubt, staying fit at any age is critical to both your physical and mental health. But it's especially important as your body ages and daily activities become more challenging to perform.
After all, when you reach a certain age, fitness may be less about training for hours to look a certain way and more about exercising to prevent cardiovascular disease, improve balance and maintain muscle mass.
That's why when it comes to the best workouts for men over 50, taking into consideration your overall health and well-being is much more important than aesthetics and big gains in the gym.
Workouts for 50-year-olds should include cardio, resistance training, balance exercises and stretching.
Exercise for Men Over 50
Before you jump on the fitness wagon, it's a good idea to get checked out by your doctor. Dr. Paul J. Arciero, FACSM, FTOS, FISSN, Director of the Human Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory and Professor in the Health and Human Physiological Sciences Department at Skidmore College, says you should always obtain medical clearance from your health care provider. If you have more than one, they all need to be on board and give a double thumbs-up to starting an exercise program.
During these visits, Arciero recommends addressing preexisting or chronic conditions so the workout can be modified and adjusted appropriately. "In just about every case, the proper fitness routine will greatly enhance and improve most of these conditions, or at least over-compensate for these conditions in a good way and result in drastic improvement in overall health and physical performance," he explains.
Arciero also points out that maintaining a consistent fitness routine of specific exercises, especially resistance and interval training, may naturally boost testosterone levels, enhance heart health, reduce diabetes risk and produce many more benefits, without the need for injections, pills and patches.
Guidelines for Men Over 50
Whether you're just starting a workout routine or you've been on a fitness journey for several years, knowing the best exercises for men over 50 can help keep you on track and reaching your health goals faster.
There's no doubt that cardiovascular exercise is one of the keys to preventing heart disease, which is why you'll find it in any roundup of best exercises for men over 50. In fact, the general exercise guidelines for adults state that for substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
Additionally, performing resistance training at least two or more days a week and some form of balance training can help round out a solid program.
Workouts for Men Over 50
While performing any physical activity is the main goal, there are specific workouts for men over 50 that should be included in an overall fitness program.
"Without question, the best workouts for men over 50 include a well-rounded fitness program of resistance and interval training combined with a healthy dose of recovery, including stretching, and a single bout of endurance training every week," explains Arciero.
Additionally, you may want to consider incorporating balance exercises into your weekly routines.
Importance of Strength Training
Knowing the components of fitness to include in a great fitness routine is just one part of the equation. You also need to know which exercises to perform for optimal muscle gain and health. According to Arciero, some of the best exercises for men over 50 years of age include resistance movements such as:
- Multi-joint functional movements like power cleans, squat-jump thrusts and chest press exercises
He also believes that high-intensity interval sprints can help boost the fitness level of men over 50. Try the following sequence on a treadmill or outdoors. This type of high-intensity interval workout is more appropriate for an advanced fitness level:
- 30 seconds all-out sprint with a two-minute recovery
- 60 seconds all-out sprint with a three- to four-minute recovery
Interestingly, says Arciero, these exercises have been shown to boost testosterone naturally.
Doing a full-body workout two to three times a week is also an effective way to slow down the aging process and maintain muscle mass. When building a routine, include exercises for the major muscle groups, including legs, glutes, chest, back, shoulders, arms and core muscles. Perform one or two exercises per muscle group for one to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions. Change up the exercises each time you work out. For example, one day might include:
- Dumbbell chest press
- Lat pulldowns
- Shoulder press
- Rear shoulder flys
- Barbell biceps curls
- Triceps cable pushdowns
Read more: Full-Body Workout for Men
Making Time to Stretch
Given the high rates of low back pain and injuries as you age, Arciero says that including stretching in workouts for men over 50 is critical to recovery and overall health and performance. Consider adding stretching exercises and yoga poses to your workouts:
- Forward bend
- Low lunge/deep crescent
- Child's pose
- Upward facing dog
- Pigeon pose
- One leg balance
Why Your Core Matters
Your core is home to some of the most essential muscles in your body, including your abdominal muscles, hips and lower back. Your mid-section is responsible for assisting in daily actives and functions such as twisting, reaching, bending and balancing. That's why Arciero says to further reduce injury risk and provide maximal strength and range of motion, core-strengthening exercises are essential.
Some moves to add to your fitness routine include:
- Dynamic plank front and side movements on elbows and physioball
- Alternate arm/leg lifts lying supine, on knees/hands or physioball
- Reverse snow angels
Importance of Variety
Staying healthy as you age is not just about choosing the best exercises for men over 50; it's also about adding challenge and variety to your workouts. If you've been hammering out the same cardio session or lifting the same weights for the last three months, it might be time to change things up. When you maintain the status quo for too long, you begin to plateau. You may even see some of the age-related benefits from working out start to decline.
Workouts for Men Over 60
The benefits of performing cardiovascular exercise, balance exercises and participating in a weight-training program continue to increase as you get older. Men over 60 need to stay physically active to keep their brain and body healthy and operating at peak levels.
While getting clearance from a doctor is critical at any age, men over 60, regardless of current health, should see their physician prior to starting an exercise program. Making time to see your doctor can help detect any medical conditions that may affect your workouts.
Fueling Your Fitness
In order to get through any strength training or cardiovascular workout, you need to be properly fueling your body. Aim to eat complex carbohydrates, quality protein and a healthy dose of fat at each meal. Additionally, you can use Arciero's Protein Pacing diet, which includes eating specific amounts of protein at each meal to ensure you're getting enough protein and other key nutrients throughout the day.
Read more: How Much Protein Is Right For You?
- Mayo Clinic: Stay Fit at Any Age
- Personal Interview: Dr. Paul J. Arciero
- Cleveland Clinic: You Can Start Exercising After Age 60 — Here's How
- American College of Cardiology: Physical Activity Necessary to Maintain Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults