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Exercises To Consider If You're Over 50

As we age our bodies change, but does this mean you should change your exercise routine as well? Here are some key things to consider when planning a workout routine over 50!

Jabari Martin, Registered Dietitian, NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Written and researched by Tom Hutch R.D., NASM C.P.T.

As we age our bodies change, but does this mean you should change your exercise routine as well? Here are some key things to consider when planning a workout routine over 50!

Older Man With Grey Hair Sitting on Running Track Lifting Medicine Ball

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Aging Bodies and bone density
Exercise - the skeleton in your closet

Different strokes for different bones
Low impact vs. high impact
Use it or lose it
Exercise advice

50 has always been a magic number when it comes to age. Okay, maybe more of a milestone than magic, but either way a lot of people seem to think there’s a big difference between life before 50 and life after 50.

On average, when you hit half a century you are likely to have more years behind you than you have left in front of you (new super-secret life-extending technology notwithstanding). But apart from being able to throw one heck of a party, is there any logical reason why our mindset on life should change when we start receiving Birthday cards with the numbers “5” and “0” on them?

There are plenty of well-known sayings if you believe in eternal youth: “you’re only as young as you feel”, “age is just a number”, pick your favorite! But while this is true of the way you approach life, surely there are some things that come with advanced age that even a spritely mindset can’t save you from?

Well...sort of.

Aging Bodies and bone density

Even though your bones are some of the hardest substances in our bodies (beaten only by your teeth!) and considered harder than concrete1, your bones are always changing. By this I don’t mean your femur suddenly decides to swap places with your spine, it’s that your bones are undergoing continuous cycles of formation and resorption2. Think of it like a phone upgrading 24/7, but it helps keep your body in tip-top shape instead of slowing it down (any iPhone users relate?).

Unfortunately, this process has a bit of a bell curve that has usually peaked before 303, remember, when you used to feel invincible? The replenishment rate of new bone decreases after 30, but luckily this is only one factor out of a number that are within our control. This is where it becomes increasingly important to consider the impact of our diet and physical activity on our health - namely, bone health.


Older Woman on Yoga Matt Stretching Forward Past Her Feet

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Exercise - the skeleton in your closet

Everyone knows that exercise is important for both our health and making sure we still fit into our favorite clothes, but how does exercise help keep you fit and healthy in the bone department?

Before we get to that, I think it’s important that first we dispel a myth around exercise and the aging human. Most people believe that becoming frail and less active as they age is simply part of life, you’ve lived your best years and now you sink slowly into a perpetual state of nostalgia and no movement.

This is a myth!

Only 1 in 4 people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercise regularlyand this is because of a mindset, not natural selection! There is absolutely no need to stop exercising or being active just because the candles on your birthday cake are getting a bit numerous.

So, set your gym routine and keep doing what you’re doing, right? Wrong. Your age does have some impact and knowing what that is and how to deal with it is crucial for your health (it’s also why this post exists!).

Different strokes for different bones

So, we’ve established that you aren’t going to let your gym membership lapse as a retirement present to yourself, and you’re committed to staying active for many a year. I like your style. But now your body has been around the block a few times, its ability to repair and create bone is slightly impared and this can lead to health conditions such as osteoporosis5, which can have a huge negative effect on your lifestyle. Not what we’re going for.

Diet plays a huge part in keeping your bones (and the rest of you) healthy, but with more fragile bones the type of exercises you choose to do becomes massively important for your longevity.

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Low impact vs. high impact

If you think of crunching football tackles as soon as someone says ‘high impact’ and ‘exercise’ in the same sentence, you would be correct to come to that conclusion, but there are a number of high-impact sports and exercises that you might not think fall into the same category. For example:

- Running, especially over long distances, can cause stress fractures in your bones.
- Tennis, even just casually hitting a rally with your mate, puts high impact on your bones (there’s a reason tennis players have significantly higher bone density in one arm than the other!6).

So the answer is low-impact after 50? It’s not that simple.

Use it or lose it

Bones are like muscles; if you don't use them, you lose them! They need adequate stress and impact to maintain and improve their rigidity. For example, cycling is an exercise popular with aging athletes because of its low impact on the joints. But, depending on how you're cycling, that low impact can be the problem! Confusing I know, but stay with me.

The issue lies with cycling while seated for long periods of time. This usually provides too little impact on the skeletal system. To fix this, standing while pedaling on your bike can add the adequate amount of stress necessary, especially to your pelvis.

 So while exercises like swimming are great cardiovascular exercise and low-impact on your joints, you really do need to use it or lose it with regards to your bone density, so adding some different exercises into your routine is definitely advisable, you just can’t push it as much as you used to!

Older Man With Grey Hair Holding Two Dumbbells Towards The Camera
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Exercise advice

Add variety to your routine. Doing weight-bearing standing exercises like squats or athletic activities that require running (but not a marathon), and will provide your body with the impact it needs to feed your bones the collagen, calcium, and other minerals they need to be healthy and strong. Where do you get those minerals? From your diet, but that’s a whole other post!

GRIT Superfoods Rejuvenation Lemon Bites on a yellow background surrounded by ingredients

Okay, some quick diet advice

As you might expect, because we are aware of what your body needs nutritionally, our own products contain superfood ingredients that are hand-picked for this purpose.

Our Rejuvenation Lemon Bites contain collagen and calcium to keep your bones strong and a huge amount of other minerals, as well as 26g of protein per bag, all there to help your body recover, grow stronger, and perform better.

GRIT's protein bites are an excellent place to start when you're looking to change your lifestyle to keep you body in good shape as you get older.