Why Anti-Aging Fitness at 50 Can Save Your Life
As millions of baby boomers cross the 50-year threshold, the perception of the dreaded “half-century” mark is changing. Many 50-year-olds today don’t look a day over 40, and many of them are just as active, if not more active, than their younger counterparts. Anti-aging fitness at this point in life is essential—those who don’t get fit at 50 are putting themselves at risk.
Even if you look youthful on the outside, neglecting the need to get fit at 50 can lead to complications. For a significant majority of older adults, the body will probably be showing signs of early arthritic changes, especially in the back and neck area. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., with an estimated one in five being diagnosed with the age-related disease—that number is expected to increase. When you get fit at 50, you can reduce your chances of being plagued with arthritis. An anti-aging fitness routine that includes mild physical activity, such as walking or swimming, can improve physical function and reduce joint pain. Although many arthritis sufferers avoid the effort to get fit at 50 out of fear that it will make their symptoms worse, ignoring anti-aging fitness is actually worse.
The human body naturally undergoes age-related physiological changes that make anti-aging fitness especially important after 50. Your body suffers a 20-30 % drop in cardiac output (how much blood your heart is pumping) by the time you hit 65. Meanwhile, maximum oxygen uptake decreases by approximately five percent per decade for sedentary women—in layman’s terms, if you don’t get fit at 50, your aerobic endurance drops. You also lose muscular strength as you get older—muscle strength increases in your 30s, plateaus through your 50s and 60s, and then declines rapidly. Taking the initiative to get fit at 50—even if you haven’t been focusing on anti-aging fitness before—can help to lessen the impact of these physiological changes.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to get fit at 50, consider this anti-aging fitness study. Researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that participants with the lowest levels of cardio fitness had a 70% higher risk of death compared with participants who had the highest levels, regardless of their body fat levels. Even a brisk daily walk qualifies as anti-aging fitness—it couldn’t be any easier to get fit at 50.
Statistics make it clear that anti-aging fitness after 50 is not only aesthetically desirable—you obviously are in better shape when you get fit at 50—but is actually necessary in order to hold off some of the most undesirable aspects of aging, like loss of muscle mass, bone density, and overall strength.
The key precaution for an exercise program to get fit at 50 is injury prevention. Whether you are currently in shape or trying to get back in shape, avoiding injury when doing anti-aging fitness routines is even more important than it was when you were younger, since the body becomes less resilient with age and takes longer to heal. Whether you are considering exercise for weight loss, arthritis and osteoporosis prevention, or just looking to get fit at 50 for the sake of living a healthier lifestyle, safe exercise habits are worth the work. An injury makes it harder to continue your anti-aging fitness routine, which defeats the whole purpose of your plan to get fit at 50.
The American College of Sports Medicine has developed weight training guidelines for people over 50. Their anti-aging fitness recommendation to get fit at 50 is to train the major muscle groups—arms, legs, shoulders, and trunk—two to three times per week with the goal of lifting a weight that’s heavy enough to allow 10 to 15 repetitions before the muscles are fatigued. Studies have shown that weight training for anti-aging fitness can actually reverse some signs of aging, including osteoporosis. Additionally, high-intensity weight training has been shown to increase the production of two hormones, among others, that help to build and maintain muscle mass, but that decline substantially with age: testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH).
Whatever style of anti-aging fitness you choose to pursue to get fit at 50, it will be an investment of time and effort that will pay off, both immediately and in the long run.
This article originally appeared on Agein.com.