Almost everyone gets out of shape at least once during their lifetime. The following exercises provide an effective and proven strategy for getting back into shape over 50.
Most of us get out of shape many times during life – often during periods of extreme busyness or stress. Often, we hunker down in the winter months like bears hibernating. And, in developed countries, the long holiday season provides an excuse to eat our favorite comfort foods and binge-watch our favorite shows.
Whatever the reason, if you’ve found that you, too, have gotten out of shape, know that it happens to just about everyone and that – as long as you’re consistent – you can get back into good shape again with the right exercises. The video lower within this article features 8 moves that will help.
How to Workout Over 50
Getting out of shape over 50 provides particular challenges that differ from when younger people get out of shape. Specifically, joints can stiffen, muscles can shorten, and metabolism can become especially stubborn.
If you’re over 50, you’ll want to:
- prioritize your warm-up to gradually raise your body temperature and to get the synovial fluid lubricating your joints;
- do an actual cool-down after your workout to increase the flexibility of your muscles and lengthen your spine;
- and spend more time on exercises that address your weakest areas, which for most people over 50 are their legs (particularly their glutes), their core muscles (particularly their lower abdominals), and their posterior chain (particularly their back muscles).
Finally, the way to workout over 50 is to keep your metabolism percolating, and so you’ll probably want to limit your steady-state cardio to once a week. In fact, cardio doesn’t burn as many calories as most people believe. The main reason you do cardio is to keep your heart and lungs healthy.
Instead, most of your exercises during the week should focus on mobility and resistance training. Resistance training exercises will increase muscle tone which helps raise your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn while doing nothing).
For those who are out of shape and want to get fit again as quickly as possible, I also recommend doing sprint exercises once each week. An anaerobic session of jumps, drills, and sprints can help strengthen and sculpt your legs while burning the maximum number of calories.
How to Lose Weight Over 50
An important side note here: people over 50 get out of shape mostly with disadvantageous eating habits.
Many people who have become out of shape need help with menu planning and meal prep which is why I created a helpful course on how to eat your way to a much better physique.
You might be excited about the idea of achieving all the positive benefits – to your health and appearance – from eating an advanced-level, anti-inflammatory diet, but aren’t sure how to proceed because your spouse isn’t as intrigued as you.
Waiting for circumstances to be perfect before you begin a new lifestyle will likely mean you’ll never begin at all.
Sure, it’s helpful if your spouse is fully on-board. But it’s not a requirement.
If separate meals are what it takes, then it’s worth the effort, I believe.
The good news is, that an anti-inflammatory diet is mostly simple meals of vegetables and meat, so I think just about anyone can manage it.
The harder part is just ignoring all the other packaged foods in the pantry; fortunately, you get used to it after a while.
Don’t be surprised if, over time, your spouse slides over to your new way of living.
Once they see you succeeding – and witness the new glow to your skin and how you move better in this new, trim, stronger body – your spouse might become inspired, even if it’s on an unconscious level. Offering an example of thriving is of tremendous value to those who have the benefit of observing you.
8 Moves that Help You Go from Out of Shape to a Healthier Physique
These eight exercises will improve your posture, make you stronger, and help you get healthier. They also will give you a better appearance so that you look trim, fit, and more youthful.
1. Backward Alternating Arm Circles for Shoulder Mobility
Alternating arm circles can be done slowly to lubricate the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder and to help that synovial fluid loosen and spread within the shoulder girdle. Be sure to exaggerate the width of this backward circle.
2. Hip Opener: Elevated Pigeon Stretch
Though intermediate and advanced athletes will often do the 90-90 stretch, you might find this elevated pigeon stretch a better way to warm-up out of shape hips.
To protect your knee, you might want to flex that elevated foot a bit.
Imagine breathing into your elevated hip.
For the first few seconds, your hip will likely be tight and immobile but – if you visualize it loosening – you’ll begin to feel the area gradually unclench.
3. Single-Leg Heel Raise
Do this exercise with an exaggerated range of motion!
Raise your heel as high as you possibly can while centering the weight on the ball of the foot. It’s tempting to allow the weight of your body to roll slightly to one side or the other but stay centered.
Similarly, when you lower the heel, lower it all the way so that you experience a deep stretch.
It’s vital that your feet be strong and supple. They are the foundation of your entire body.
4. Reverse Alternating Lunge
Reverse lunges will generally feel better on your front knee cap (compared to forward lunges or squats), which makes it a perfect exercise for out of shape legs and buttocks.
If you feel like your balance is shakey, try stepping out to the side a bit as you reach your foot back (instead of walking a tightrope).
5. Diagonal Chin-Ups
Pulls up can feel a bit impossible when you’re out of shape, so this exercise will improve your posture and strengthen your back while still feeling doable.
6. Push-Ups with Elevated Feet
By elevating your feet, this exercise will target your upper pectorals, which is a problem area for many people over the age of 50.
7. Single-Leg Raise Initiated from Abdominals
By hanging slightly from a bar, and lifting one leg at a time, you can begin the process of strengthening your core. However, avoid the temptation to use your hip flexors to do the work. Instead, initiate the movement from your lower abdominals (that area above your pubic bone but below your navel).
8. Hanging Double-Knee Raise (optional)
Finish with a bang! This exercise will give you a stronger, firmer abdominal wall. Try to keep your ribs compressed as you slowly raise your knees, drawing your navel in as tightly as you possibly can. Remember to exhale at the top of the rep.
If this exercise feels too strenuous, consider starting with only two repetitions. Then, you build slowly from there, increasing your reps slowly over time.
Out of Shape? Try This Rep Scheme and Circuit Scheme
Sometimes, life happens.
We’ve been exercising consistently for a while, but some event or challenge messes up our routine and we fall out of the habit of working out daily.
When that happens, the first day back to exercise can feel extremely daunting because our bodies have gone out of shape again:
- If you’re just starting out, try doing 6 reps of each exercise, building up to 12 gradually over time.
- If you feel completely out of shape, move through this entire circuit only once. As you become stronger, you can gradually do this circuit twice (with a 3-minute break in between each complete round). Eventually, you can build up to 4 entire circuits!
When in Doubt, Walk
If you’ve been out of the habit of exercising and want to get back into shape – but just don’t feel motivated enough for a resistance-training workout – then a simple walk can be an excellent way to get started.
Walking is free, requires no special equipment or training, and can be done just about anywhere.
Plus, there’s science to back it up.
Within a meta-analysis of seven cohort studies investigating the connection between daily step count and all-cause mortality risk – in almost 30,000 participants with an average age range of 57–78 – it was established that each 1,000-step increment in daily step count was associated with a 12% lower risk of all-cause mortality.
And, a friendly reminder: habitual exercise and an anti-inflammatory diet – when done simultaneously – bring you positive results at a rate that is more and more rapid.
In other words, if we imagine habitual exercise as “2” on its own, and an anti-inflammatory diet as “2” on its own, then you might think that together they equal “4.” However, in my experience, when combined, nutrition and exercise equal 4,000.
Thinking you might be out of shape?
Feel great and look great again!
The above exercises provide an effective and proven strategy for getting back into shape over the age of 50.
As always, be certain to consult with your medical doctor before making any significant changes to your diet or exercise program.