Exercise over the age of 50 keeps your brain sharp
A recent meta-study coming out the UC Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE) at the University of Canberra (Canberra, Australia) has shown that physical exercise improved cognitive function in adults over the age of 50. More importantly, the type of exercise didn’t seem to affect the results. Aerobics, resistance and weight training, yoga, running, and tai chi all had significant point estimates. Our brains sharpen up when we exercise for 45–60 minutes/session, at moderate+ intensity, a few days a week. (Click HERE to read the study.)
So, what does this mean for you?
Regular exercise (3 days a week, at a moderate intensity, for at least 30 minutes a time):
• Gets you looking really good, which – no doubt – will put a smile on your face.
What exercise programs are recommended for people over 50? What should you avoid?
Let’s start with a few basic rules:
- Anything is better than nothing.
- It’s never too late to start.
- There is a fitness program that you can do no matter your range of motion.
- You don’t need a gym to exercise.
Walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, dancing, and anything else that keeps your heart pumping will help strengthen the large muscles in your body, help you to lose weight, make your heart stronger, and fix up your cardiovascular system. Don’t rush it and ease into it slowly. Every day you’ll be able to go a little further for a little longer. Do it with a friend and talk as you go or do it solo and play your favorite music. If you can’t wear regular earbuds, get yourself a pair of bone conducting headphones (read back on our favorite picks of 2017 – HERE).
Muscle loss happens with age. Inactive people over the age of 30 can lose as much as 3-5% of their muscle mass every 10 years (read more about it – HERE). Even active people will still lose muscle as the years go on. Start with light hand-weights at home or at the gym doing 3-4 sets of 8 reps. Build yourself up to 12-15 reps for 4 sets. Mix up your routine and intervals every few weeks to prevent your body from getting used to your sequence.
Cable machines in the gym are great because they offer high resistance in and out of each exercise with a low-impact movement. Another option is to use suspension training equipment. It’s cheap and can work in any door of your house with no installation needed. Moreover, you can take it to the park or the mountains if you want to get out and exercise in the open air. I’ve been using a TRX for the last 3 years and I wouldn’t go back. It’s a 100% body-weight workout, low-impact, and it really, really works. (Check out the product and read reviews – HERE)
This is Ray O’Brain. He’s an 81-year-old power-lifter. Read about his story HERE.
This is by far the most undervalued and overlooked exercise option available. For gentleman and ladies alike, Ashtanga Yoga is one of the most difficult and rewarding things you can do for yourself. I heard that “yoga’s for girls” too many times in my life. If that’s the case, then, ladies, my hats off to you; you’re putting us men to shame.
Tai Chi is slowly growing in popularity in the West but is, and has been, the choice favorite for people over 50 in the East for centuries. This is the best option if mobility is an issue for you. It relieves arthritis, improves balance and muscle-strength, and improves circulation.
Set Active Habits
If you’re too busy to set a regular workout routine, or you find that you just can’t bring yourself to stick to one, anything is better than nothing. Set up small daily goals for yourself. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, get off the bus one or two blocks earlier and walk the rest of the way, or get a dog and take it out a few times a day.
Whatever you do, keep moving! Your body and mind will thank you.
It can be hard to know where to start. These books and programs should be able to get you on your way –
1) Younger Next Year by Dr. Henry Lodge and Chris Crowley. He breaks down workout plans that turn back the clock, fix current injuries, and prevent problems that are common in ageing.
2) 399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young by Nancy Linde. A good book to keep yourself challenged daily.
3) Senior Fitness: The Diet and Exercise Program for Maximum Health and Longevity by Ruth Heidrich. Full of detailed medical information and exercise/diet advice.
4) Ageless Strength: Strong and Fit for a Lifetime by Jeff Horowitz. A breakdown of 50 simple strength exercises and a 6-week plan to get you going.
Share your story with us. Have you gotten active later in life? What advice do you have for others? Click HERE and let us know!