I find other women to be so inspiring when it comes to staying motivated to exercise or to try new things. Several years ago, I wrote an article about top fitness tips and advice from my fitness friends whom I exercise with daily. These people come to my classes and are great at supporting each other and supporting the mostly female class base at the YMCA. While we do have men, and we do have men over 50, I chose to poll the ladies this time. Girls first, right?
One of my favorite tips is from B.N. She said it is important to choose great teammates in the pursuit of being fit. They will become not only your cheerleaders and confidantes but some of your best friends. She also said NEVER use age as an excuse. I second that one for sure. People have so many excuses it almost becomes comical. And yes, some excuses are valid, but many are just excuses.
M.H. said that a really frustrating part of being over 50 is the very real slowing metabolism. She said we need to shock our body with varying exercises to keep it guessing. Science does suggest that this is very true. Each decade we go through the aging cycle, we lose muscle mass and our metabolism slows down. She suggests you mix different workouts such as vigorous walking, spinning, Pilates, strength training classes, yoga, Zumba or Pound. She added that it is much better to come out of a workout session having been challenged and having sweated than for it to be too easy.
B.W. placed a lot of importance on staying as strong as possible in order to safeguard her joints, and to constantly mix it up in the gym, from classes to elliptical to upper- and lower-body exercises. What she said that I loved the most was not to think that just because we’re over 50 that many of us can’t do what the 30- to 40-year-olds can do. I second that! Don’t ever underestimate a determined and confident woman!
A great tip from H.H. was to stay as flexible as possible while aging. Being flexible through consistent yoga practice can help improve range of motion and fend off the falls that are common in the aging process. She also recommended that we be as consistent with exercise as we are with brushing our teeth.
H.L. recommends that women over 50 should google a weight chart and calculate your Body Mass Index by finding a BMI calculator online. Then see if you are within what is considered normal range. She also made the really important point that women of all ages should to avoid negative thinking. Pat yourself on the back when you get plenty of exercise and drink plenty of water.
My advice is to stay as strong as you possibly can. Up your weights, do more reps, do more core work. Not crunches, but planks, reverse planks, medicine ball work and more. There are so many versatile fitness tools nowadays, and one of the best fitness tools is your body weight. Don’t be afraid to get on the floor and do some of these moves. Use gravity to work your body.
Lastly, find a friend who can help hold you accountable. You can help each other weed through the constant barrage of nutrition and exercise advice. Only seek nutritional advice from someone who is a dietitian or licensed nutritionist. The same goes for exercise advice. Seek out qualified people to help you start your journey. In time, you will find something you like or even love doing.
Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer and manager of the Oxford YMCA. And she’s over 50. "Fitness over 50" is published the third Sunday of each month.