Keeping your muscle and mobility is the best thing to do for longevity once you hit 50 years old.
That said, it’s also the age that concern grows about safety.
While most at this age aren’t attempting to body build, understanding safe fitness routines isn’t a bad idea.
Unfortunately, there is so much conflicting information online.
Some articles suggest yoga and walking for 50+. And others say full-on 30-60 second sprints are what you need to do at that age.
To help you navigate the wide gulf of back-and-forth data, we aim to include science in the form of studies and medical articles showing basic needs for healthy aging (we’ll link to them for your own research).
Let’s get going!
Building Muscle is Important
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study about the vital role of muscle in several health functions.
According to the abstract of the study:
“Muscle plays a central role in whole-body protein metabolism by serving as the principal reservoir for amino acids to maintain protein synthesis in vital tissues and organs…Furthermore, altered muscle metabolism plays a key role in the genesis, and therefore the prevention, of many common pathologic conditions and chronic diseases.”The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
So, what does that mean?
- Healthy muscle growth improves the digestion of protein into amino acids (which are sometimes referred to as the building blocks of life)
- Good “muscle metabolism” can prevent many common chronic diseases
Not too shabby. No, you don’t have to move a lot of weight to reap the benefits of a healthy amount of muscle mass.
Several muscle-building exercises don’t require the use of any weights.
The 2 Best Workouts to Build and Maintain Muscle
Exercise #1: Squats
The basic squat is a fantastic way to build muscle while reducing common areas of pain for those over 50. Regular squats will build up your thighs, glutes and the muscles around places like your lower back and knees.
Here’s a quick explanation:
Start in a standing position and simply squat by going as low as you can while keeping your back straight.
Resource: Here is a short video, from Boflex, showing exactly how to do a proper squat without getting hurt.
Exercise #2: Push Ups
Pushups are another bodyweight exercise perfect to build strength. Squats build one of the largest muscle groups (the legs).
Push-ups work on the arms and chest. Plus, this exercise (when done properly) is a tough workout.
Everyone knows how to do a push-up (and has probably done them). But it’s really difficult to do this exercise correctly. Here’s a video showing proper form.
The Heart is Important, Too
Yes, the heart is a muscle. But it’s not one that needs to grow.
Your heart keeps you alive and the better shape it’s in, the better it does that job.
According to the NCBI, strenuous activity affects the resting heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. So, what exactly does “strenuous” mean?
Let’s go over two these exercises.
Exercise #1: Walk or Jog
If you’re fairly sedentary, begin with walking as briskly as you care to move.
The first few times, check your pulse and ensure your heart is getting higher, but not too high.
Finding the right heart rate for you is something to discuss with your medical care professional. Use a calculator to get an idea of the average ideal HR.
One Potential Issue:
Over time, as you walk, raising your heart rate becomes more difficult. Progressively increasing speed is the best way to overcome the hurdle.
Here’s a great resource for learning to jog after 50.
Exercise #2: Sauna
Getting in a hot sauna may not sound like a workout, but it does the exact same things:
- Elevate heart rate
- Raises core body temperature
Science backs it up, too. There are several recent studies showing that visiting the sauna multiple times per week is shown to reduce all cause mortality!
A number of gyms have saunas for use by all members. Or you can pick one up for your home (about the same cost as a lower-end hot tub).
These four exercises have the potential to change and maintain your life for the better.