Fit at 50
Fifty is indeed a major milestone! Your obligations to children and other family members start to become lighter around this decade. This allows more time to focus on yourself. It also brings a heightened sense of self-esteem, which is a fantastic quality that will help you outweigh the physical changes.
Changes in your body
The bodily changes that happen when you turn fifty are more prominent. Graying hair, changes in vision, sagging underarms, and loss of skin elasticity are all a part of the aging process. The 50s are when most tend to notice their muscle loss. It is significant among those who are sedentary and do not have a strength/resistance training exercise in place. Research shows that people with limited physical activity increase their risk of reducing their muscle mass by 40% and their joint motion by 10%-40%. So if you don’t use it, you lose it!
Additionally, your body shape changes with age. Besides muscle loss, bone (mineral) loss occurs, resulting in weak bones. Also, the amount of fat that accumulates goes up due to age-related muscle loss. It is reported that older people tend to have nearly one-third more fat compared to their younger years. Fat accumulates around the center of the body and also around the internal organs. Medline Plus, the National Institutes of Health’s website, states that after the age of 40, people typically lose almost a ½ inch (about 1 centimeter) every 10 years. It may appear discouraging, but your lifestyle choices influence how quickly the aging process can occur. You can take control of age-related body changes through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and limited or no alcohol use.
Which nutrients do you need the most?
You can look and feel great in your 50s with the following nutrients in your diet:
Antioxidants: Antioxidants help power up your immune system and also lower the risk of many diseases. Several studies reveal that including adequate antioxidants in the diet bolsters the immune system for healthy aging. Choose plenty of bright-colored vegetables and seasonally available produce to increase antioxidants.
B12: About 30% of adults over the age of fifty-one have atrophic gastritis with low stomach acid secretion. It is recommended that they bump up B12 levels with supplements and or fortified foods.
Water: Staying hydrated helps keep your blood pressure at normal levels, reduces body aches, and is good for your joints.
Calcium: It is crucial to include calcium-rich foods in your diet. There are plenty of plant-based foods you can consume to meet your daily calcium levels. A cup of cooked broccoli gives 60 mg calcium. A cup of raw kale provides 90 mg calcium. Both kale and broccoli are cruciferous vegetables that are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients—a twofold benefit!
If you want to have strong bones, you must also include nutrients like magnesium, boron, and vitamin D along with calcium. These are bone-building nutrients. Continue checking your vitamin D levels with annual bloodwork to assess your status.
What about your thoughts and mindset in your 50s?
You’re fifty, but that doesn’t automatically make you feel like a Zen master! No one does, but moments of wisdom do dawn on you here and there. You’re the vintage wine gradually maturing inside. You likely care less about what others think. Wiser about arguments, you no longer want to waste your energy on trivial things. You likely understand that life is an experience and is not about how much you succeed or gather. Did you know Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Beethoven made their most-creative contributions after age 50? So throw out the negative stereotypes about aging!
A study (2015) found that stereotyping of aging can influence attitudes, performances, decisions, and the holistic health of adults. It is essential to understand the facts and myths about aging.
How can you nurture your brain and your mind?
Completing crossword puzzles, socializing with friends, walking, and spending time outdoors all have a positive effect on your mind and brain. You get bonus points if you already practice yoga and meditation regularly. Research shows that yoga helps slow or even reverse the harmful effects of aging, including depression and cellular damage.
If you have high cholesterol or high blood sugar, it may impact your brain. It is crucial to keep your blood cholesterol/sugar at normal levels with diet and exercise, along with the medications prescribed by your doctor.
In a nutshell, stay physically active, get regular blood cholesterol/ sugar screenings, and include a variety of wholesome foods, along with supplements when necessary.
How to exercise during your 50s
By Samuel Biesack
Turning fifty is indeed one of the most significant milestones and achievements in life, but it’s also a major turning point for many in terms of lifestyle and health. At the age of 50, many have almost fulfilled their duties as employees and are not as busy with parenting, and with retirement approaching, the desire to remain active can be challenging.
However, other forces are at play here that require the maintenance of an active lifestyle. After turning 50, you’re most likely on the latter half of hormonal decline, which means your muscle, strength, bone density, and cardiovascular health are all at risk.
During this time, you’re at a higher risk of developing heart disease than you were in your earlier years, especially if you have risk factors such as unbalanced cholesterol and excess weight. Additionally, according to one Gallup Poll, roughly 37% of Americans aged 54 to 59 develop chronic neck or back pain, which can reduce independence and quality of life.
Fortunately, there are a few methods of exercise you can prioritize during your 50s to help you live your best life.
Use load-bearing exercises for bone health
One primary risk after you turn fifty is poor bone health. Simply, if you’re leading a relatively sedentary lifestyle, your bones have little reason to maintain density and strength.
Load-bearing exercises such as squats, overhead press, leg press, and deadlifts stress your bones, which stimulates processes that allow them to grow stronger. As mentioned previously, this is even more important for women, who are at higher risk of developing bone diseases like osteoporosis (3, 4).
If, however, you’re just starting, it’s strongly advised that you opt for the help of one of LVAC’s Certified Trainers to guide and teach you how to use these exercises safely and effectively.
Use a mixture of resistance
Just because you’re fifty doesn’t mean you can’t lift heavy (within reason). Even though you’re getting older, your muscles still need a stimulus to remain strong and defined. Simply, if you don’t practice being strong with weights, your muscles will lose that strength. Fortunately, using heavy resistance can also stimulate the growth and maintenance of your muscle mass.
Additionally, you can mix in some lighter, higher repetition work to stimulate muscle growth. Research shows that even if you’re using low amounts of resistance, muscle growth is still possible. This does, however, require you to take your sets close to failure (i.e., to the point that you can’t perform additional repetitions) (5). Again, using a trainer for guidance is a smart move.
Work on core strength
According to the previously mentioned Gallup Poll, you’re at a higher risk of developing chronic neck and back pain in your 50s. Fortunately, prioritizing core exercises—including sit-ups, planks for stabilization, and lower back crunches—or even attending a class like Pilates might help (6).
Prioritize mobility and flexibility
Just like in your 40s, you can experience pain and a reduced range of motion in your joints. These effects can negatively impact your quality of life. In keeping with the suggestions for your 40s, setting aside time specifically for working on the movement of your joints is recommended.
Using classes like Healthy Back, PIYO (Pilates & Yoga), and Yoga are all great choices offered through LVAC.
Maintain cardiovascular ability
Finally, since you have an increased risk of developing heart disease, prioritizing cardio exercises is a smart move. In doing so, you want to have a healthy mixture of more intense cardio such as jogging or classes like Body Combat, as well as lower-impact cardio such as Lite Workout.
Here’s what a proper exercise schedule might look like during your 50s:
- Monday: Full-Body Resistance Workout With Your Trainer
- Tuesday: Healthy Back
- Wednesday: 1-3 Mile Walk at a Fast Pace
- Thursday: Rest Day
- Friday: Body Combat
- Saturday: Full-Body Resistance Workout With Your Trainer
- Sunday: PIYO or Rest Day