We buy magazines by the dozens because they feature articles by celebrities touting the latest fitness crazes. We love reading that stuff. We all live in hope that they have stumbled on some formula that will keep us looking good forever. Why do we turn to celebrities and professional trainers to tell us how to exercise? We have been obsessed with the notion that thin is better since we were pre-teens and we still are, until we get sick and then find that being thin isn’t always a good thing. Glossy magazines feature endless plans for firming butts and getting rid of muffin tops, but endless cardio and demon crunches do not make for a healthy body.
We kept stepping and crunching well into our 40s and 50s because we felt so good and we looked so fine, until we didn’t. The day came when you noticed that your body wasn’t responding as quickly as it used to. You fought back by spending more time on the treadmill and taking extra aerobics classes. You ate less and you worked out more but nothing seemed to work. It finally dawned on you that you might be getting a little older, and you wondered if your fitness program needed an update.
Exercise is still important at 50 but the focus is different. It isn’t just about losing a few pounds to fit into a wedding dress but on being active and healthy. The rewards are no longer measured by dress sizes but by whether you will be able to dress yourself a few years down the line. You still need cardio and you still need weight training when you are in your 50s, but with a little less intensity. Dieting isn’t enough. If you weren’t doing weight training before, it is time to start. Your routines don’t have to be as grueling because no number of crunches is going to prevent nature from doing what it does best. You can be more specific though and you can be stronger and better than ever. Warm-up, stretching, flexibility and balance all need to be factored into the plan. If you need professional help to change gears start with your physician and go with his/her recommendations.
What about 60? If you haven’t exercised before it might be hard to convince yourself that you can still have some say about your future. It isn’t too late to take matters into your own hands, before you enter the “use it or lose” phase of your live. Exercise is more important than ever. You need challenging but not exhausting cardio three times a week (slow jog, weight training 3 times a week, stretching, and walking). Discomfort associated with arthritis, bad knees and osteoporosis may already have reared its ugly head. What a bummer, you would think that after years of exercising you would be impervious to pain. Surprisingly, activity is still the treatment of choice. You need to push your even more because inactivity is a real killer. Pick your exercises a little more carefully and adapt your routines. Slow and steady is just fine. Take care of your joints by concentrating on shorter jogs or doing water exercises. Resistance training is good, weight training with lighter weights, stretching and balance exercises are words that you will become familiar with. Again, your health care team is the place to start if you need help designing a safe but effective program. Exercising in your 50s and 60s is definitely different, but you can see still results.