Your body begins to weaken as soon as you pass 30, both in muscle mass and bone density. These changes continue for the rest of your life, and by 50, you’ve had 20 years of deterioration. However, you can fight back and still get in shape, sometimes in better shape than you were in during your 30s. The key to getting back in shape is intelligently engaging in resistance training, which includes planning a routine and getting the professional advice of a physician.
As you near the second half of your life, your body loses muscle. Resistance training is one way to strengthen your body, helping it to rebuild any lost muscle mass or add new muscle. But as the weakness of an older body makes it harder to safely engage in intense exercise, exercisers past 50 should start slow when it comes to resistance training. Begin with safer resistance training equipment, such as resistance bands, which are elastic strips that you attach to a fixture and a part of your body. For example, tie a resistance band to a weighted table leg and then to your ankle. From there, curl your leg, engaging your hamstrings. This form of resistance is easy to control and generally safe. Once you feel comfortable with this kind of resistance training, move onto other types of exercise equipment, such as machines and free weights.
Besides taking it slow, the most important aspect of exercise for those over 50 is form. Proper form not only prevents injury, it also allows you to effectively train specific muscles. Performing a proper pulldown, for instance, mainly trains the latissimus dorsi, the muscle group running down the sides of your chest, under your armpits. But performing a pulldown incorrectly could needlessly strain your back, arms and shoulders. Before you add more weight to an exercise, be sure you are using the correct form. You can learn about exercise form from books, videos or personal trainers.
Don’t solely rely on a mental plan for getting into shape. Instead, develop a written program that outlines what type of training you will do each day, what exercises you will work on and how many exercises you will do. For resistance training, try to focus on only two or three muscle groups per day. For example, work on the chest and abs on Tuesday, the arms and shoulders on Thursday and the legs and back on Saturday. Perform each exercise in three sets of eight reps, with three-minute rests in between each set. Remember to set up rest days between resistance training days. On rest days, you can engage in cardio exercise, which is good for heart health and fat loss. While resistance training exercise is what will give you muscle tone and increased metabolism, cardio is necessary for overall health. Try 40 minutes of cardio exercise three times per week for better heart health and fat loss.
Before you change any fitness-related aspect of your life, whether it be an exercise routine or diet, talk to your physician. Different people have different needs, especially when it comes to correcting any unhealthy habits that have lasted half a lifetime. Your primary goal during the checkup should be to ensure you do not have any medical conditions that could interfere with your exercise plan. At this time, you can also outline to your doctor your plan to get in shape and request his or her professional feedback.
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