I hear it all the time… “I’m 52 (67, 72, or plug in your number), and I used to be fit and active and exercise. Now I’m out of shape, want to feel healthy again, and I’m not sure where to start!”
Once you have made the decision you are ready to get back into an exercise routine, you have already conquered the hardest part! Let’s take the guesswork out of your workout and give you 5 tips to help you feel your best as you get back into fitness.
Listen to Your Body and Start Slow
If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised regularly, it is important to start slowly. I’ve seen it too many times where someone hasn’t been active in a while except for walking and they push their first couple workouts too hard. They end up achy and sometimes even injured.
I recommend you start your first workout at 50% intensity and listen to your body. If you feel any twinges or pain (different from feeling your muscles working out), try to adjust your form or change up your resistance. If you still feel pain or a twinge, stop that exercise and move on.
It can be tempting to push yourself in the first workout because you really want to make up for lost time. But muscle soreness from resuming workouts can creep up one or two days later and can be intense if you take it too far, too fast. Start slow and listen to your body!
Always Warm Up and Cool Down
As we age, it is very important for our cardiovascular system, our muscles, and joints to warm up at the beginning of your workout and cool down when you finish.
My programs are built to include about 3 to 7 minutes of dynamic movements to slowly bring the heart rate up and warm up all the muscles and joints of the body. Some examples of dynamic warm-up exercises include arm circles, high-knee marches, side steps, and head turns.
At the end of each workout, deep breathing and static stretches allow your muscles to recover and your heart rate to safely return to resting. If you performed a full-body workout, some examples of stretches that will help you to gain flexibility and ease any workout soreness are the hamstring stretch, calf stretch, and upper body stretches.
You Need More Than Walking
Many of the women who reach out to me are regular walkers. Maybe you track your steps daily, maybe you walk your dog, enjoy walking alone, or with a friend. That’s awesome! But your body needs more than just walking, especially after 50.
As we age, starting in our 30s, our body loses muscle fibers if we aren’t actively strength training. Strength training can help to build up muscle fibers and protect our joints from aches and pains typically associated with aging.
Most times people think there is nothing they can do; that these aches are a part of aging. But it’s not true! You can build your muscles and protect your joints through strength training. Start by performing your strength exercises 8–12 reps for 2–3 sets using a weight that feels challenging by the last rep of each set.
Strength training is advised 2–3 times a week. Some examples of beginner strength training exercises include bridge, dead bug, and rows.
Use Dynamic Full Body Compound Movements
You will get much more out of your workouts if you are performing dynamic movements standing, lying down, and moving versus using stationary weight machines.
You can use resistance bands, free weights, and body weight to get a full-body workout that challenges your core and your balance each time! An example of a complex exercise is a wood chop, which works your core, your balance, your upper and lower body.
Of course, be safe. Start at your level. If you need to sit for an exercise or change your stance position, that is ok! Better to be safe, start slow, and build up from there!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
It is much easier to reach your goals when you don’t have to map or trek the course yourself. Why re-create the wheel when it has already been made? Working with a personal trainer is a great way to reach your goals safely and quickly.
I have worked with hundreds of women and men over 50 to help them to reclaim their health, stop spinning their wheels, and finally reach their goals so they can feel confident, look good, and feel healthy. If you need more support and guidance, you can learn more about my programs and strength training options.
What is your current exercise routine? Do you consider yourself active? Do you walk regularly? What else do you do? If you’re not very active, are you ready to begin a program? Please share your thoughts with the community!