In this article, we’re going to discuss fitness and provide you a workout program specifically designed for those of us that over 50. We have an entire section of our blog for Fitness and Activities because it's so important to use 50 plus-ers. The type of activities and trips you take can add to your level of fun and fitness too! Fitness, activity, and planning fun trips to look forward to are all part of the master plan to have a great outlook on life after 50 and to stay healthy. OK, let’s get started with how to get back in shape at 50 and beyond!
Learning How to Get Back in Shape At 50 Plus is Different
The first thing to know about what you’re about to read is that we get it. I’m 62 and my wife, Shirley is 52. I was an athlete in high school and have always enjoyed working out. All that really means is that I’ve done a lot of different types of physical activities like boxing, a sprint triathlon, cross-fit training, 10k runs (Shirley too), and various work out routines. But through some trial and error, and research, I realized that learning how to get back in shape at 50 was going to be different. Especially if you start from not being in shape for whatever reason.
What’s different about learning how to get back in shape at 50 plus? Many things. Typically, our bodies aren’t as flexible. We don’t have the core strength like we did when we were younger. Even if we used to work out, we’ve lost some or a lot of muscle memory, so we need to teach our mind and body to work out properly again. And, we aren’t necessarily trying to bulk up. We just want to be stronger and more flexible.
Why Go Through All of This?
If you're asking yourself why you should even contemplate going through all of the time, energy, and effort to begin working out again, that just means your normal. It's a commitment and a lifestyle change. We're no longer trying to fit into a summer bikini or have those ripped abs to impress the ladies. We just want to live longer and stay out of the doctor's office. I'll just tell you that even though I wrestle with the same question, it's very worth it. I talk about that in, Is Getting in Shape After 60 a Losing Battle?
Even If You Used to Be an Athlete
Even if we were athletes back in the day, there’s a process of learning how to get back in shape at 50, 60, and beyond. We should go into it with a different mindset than when we were 30. It’s not about impressing anyone else but you (and maybe your significant other). What it’s about is simply feeling great and being satisfied with how you fit into clothes, look in the mirror, and perform in the bedroom :).
Workouts for Everyone
So, the workouts that you’ll see here at LifeStyleOver50 will keep all that in mind. We’ll have workouts for the person who hasn’t lifted a weight or even run around the block in decades. But we’ll also have workouts for those that maybe have done those things, and/or eventually get to the point where they want to do more advanced workouts.
Our workouts are designed for a 50, 60, even 70+-year-old body. Trust me, you can’t just start throwing weights around like you could when you were 30. I’ve made that mistake before and learned the hard way. But I’m going to share what I learned with you so it’s easier. I’m going to share for women and men how to get back in shape at 50 and beyond. Regardless of whether you’re a former athlete or have always hated working out.
Health Issues and Medications
When Shirley and I spend time with family and friends that are our age and even younger, quite often the topic of health comes up. Who had the latest doctor visit and for what reason? A significant number of people that we know have had to deal with some form of cancer. Prostate, skin, kidney (like me), or some other form. Then the discussion turns to medications.
It seems that everyone 50 and above is on some sort of prescription medication. In fact, most people are on several different medications. When we share that neither of us is on any medications, it’s shocking to people. Recently I went to see my primary care doctor for an annual checkup. His assistant asked me how many medications I was on. Not “if” I were on any medications, but “how many”. When I told her that I was on none she replied, “Do you know how rare that is for someone your age?”
Don't Toss the Medications Just Yet
I’m not going to tell you that exercise and proper diet will allow you to throw out the medications you might be taking. But there are countless examples where regular exercise and an adjustment in diet helped people get off medications like blood pressure, cholesterol, erectile dysfunction, and many more.
Consult Your Physician – Disclaimer - Please Read
Before you attempt to get in back shape at 50 plus, you should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. This is particularly true if you (or your family) have a history of high blood pressure or heart disease, or if you have ever experienced chest pain when exercising or have experienced chest pain in the past month when not engaged in physical activity, smoke, have high cholesterol, are obese, or have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in physical activity. Do not start this fitness program if your physician or health care provider advises against it. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain, or shortness of breath at any time while exercising you should stop immediately.
This site offers health, fitness, and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional. Do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.
Developments in medical research may impact the health, fitness, and nutritional advice that appears here. No assurance can be given that the advice contained in this site will always include the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular material.
Further, we are not licensed physical, fitness instructors. What we share herein is what we do each day for our own benefit. Any information regarding physical activity contained herein may or may not be suited for you or your specific physical or medical condition.
Diet and Exercise is How to Get Back in Shape at 50 Plus
Because of our mindset and what we do for a living, people want our opinion on health or they share with us their most recent bout with some medical condition. It seems that they’re looking for some magic pill or supplement to make it go away. I say that because when we start talking about diet and exercise, they shut down, or at least partially. They listen but they have a hard time accepting the concept. Why is that?
Is it because we as Americans are so indoctrinated into the concepts of western medicine and a western diet that we think we can somewhat neglect or even abuse our bodies for decades and then just get pills to fix it? Is our society so caught up in the day to day struggle to earn a living that we ignore our own well-being? I’m not smart enough to figure out why people resist the concept that diet and exercise are the primary answers to the most common health issues. But that’s what we talk about here at LifeStyleOver50 so if you’re on board with it, or want to learn why we believe that, read on!
Diet Resources for Learning How to Get Back in Shape at 50 Plus
We cover extensively the topic of diet in the categories listed below and above in the main menu. Click any of these 3 and learn what we’ve learned from experts, holistic health practitioners, and natural healers regarding general health, diet, and specific recipes.
Exercise and Fitness – Start Where You’re At
Especially for those of us that were physically fit, enjoyed working out, and had an athlete’s mentality in the past, we need to pay attention here. You can’t start where you used to be. You need to start where you’re at now. After having major surgery in 2017 I started working out again just like I did before the surgery. It was a huge mistake! I made things worse. I set myself back weeks because I injured the area I was trying to strengthen.
It also caused a bit of a mental let down as well. It wasn’t until I consulted with someone that knew what he was talking about that I learned a very simple concept that I discuss in the article, How Surviving Kidney Cancer Made Me Better. If you are rehabbing from an injury or surgery be sure to jump over and read that article.
Over 50 and Fit
Since we originally published this article I had the opportunity to interview the gentleman who made a world of difference in my come back from surgery. You can read that article and see the interview at Over 50 and Fit - Interview With Dan Shipman of Full Torque Fitness.
Start Slow and Simply Make Steady Progress
So, my best advice, no matter where you assess yourself to be at currently, is to start slow. If you haven’t done any kind of cardio exercising in a long time, start off by brisk walking. If you haven’t lifted weights for strength in years don’t start by lifting weights. Get resistance bands. Shirley and I used them for quite some time before we started lifting weights again even though we were into cross-fit training not too many years ago.
The Right Mindset for Learning How to Get Back in Shape at 50 Plus
The idea is to just get your body moving every day. Wait, did he just say every day? Yes! More on that in a minute. You may not see tremendous physical results right away but don’t worry about that. As much as training your body, you need to train your brain too. You need your subconscious mind to get into working out. You want to get the ‘happy hormones’ flowing when you think about going for that brisk walk and/or doing a resistance band workout. If you do that your subconscious will take over and you’ll want to exercise more often, and do even more down the road when your body is ready for it.
2 Types of People
When it comes to fitness or staying fit, there are 2 types of people. The first type is those that, at some point in their life, got into physical exercise. They have a history of being fit even if that were back in high school. They were maybe even an athlete back in the day. Perhaps as an adult, they had a physical activity they enjoyed like golf or riding bikes. Or, they went to the gym on and off. There is something in their makeup that can get into an exercise routine and thrive from it.
The other type of person never got into physical exercise. It wasn’t their thing. They never enjoyed playing sports or perhaps felt they weren’t good at sports and shied away from them. As an adult, they didn’t get into any form of activity or go to a gym. The thought of exercising daily isn’t very appealing.
I fall into this first category. I played sports in high school and throughout my life, I tried to stay physically active. Interestingly, my wife, Shirley falls into the second. However, today we both work out on a regular basis. My desire to stay physically active has rubbed off on her. She gave it a try and has realized the benefits of exercise and working out, and now embraces it.
Cross-Fit Training Will Get You in Shape
At one point, about 7 years ago as I write this, we got into cross-fit training. Even though I was 55 and Shirley was 45 we were perhaps in the best shape we had been since our 20’s. The point here is that anyone, regardless of their history with exercise, can “get back in shape” if they realize the benefits and give it a good honest try. The key is to stay with it long enough that your brain triggers areas of your body to release ‘happy hormones’ like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins when you even think of working out.
What are Happy Hormones?
This may be the first time you’ve read about working out or getting in shape and the author is talking about happy hormones or hormones at all. There is more and more information being made available about the role of hormones and how they trigger thoughts, emotions, motivation, and more. As you might already be aware, hormones are crucial to our physical and emotional well-being.
What are the happy hormones? It’s certainly not a medical term. But if you Google the term ‘happy hormones’ you’ll see all sorts of articles about them. Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins are commonly referred to as the ‘happy hormones’ because when released in our body, they make us feel better physically and emotionally.
Is Everything Firing the Way It Used To?
We were all taught in 9th-grade biology that the brain controls literally everything that our body does. It does so through signals back and forth through the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and so on. These signals are sent by neurotransmitters. Amongst other directions the brain is sending to the body, it sends signals to release hormones or all sorts for various functions.
When we feel happy or sad, or motivated or lazy, it’s usually preceded by either a thought or an action. Perhaps when you think about your kids it makes you happy. What just happened? Your thought about your kids got your brain to send a signal to release serotonin. The serotonin release is what made you feel happy. Similarly, when we think about exercising today, we may be motivated to do it or not motivated at all. Why are some people fired up about working out and others couldn’t be less fired up? It’s because of the hormone release or lack thereof when we think about it.
Sometimes We Don't Produce Enough On Our Own
When we get older, and in some cases because of inherent deficiencies in some people, these neurotransmitters get slower, don’t send those important signals as often, or in some cases, don’t send those signals at all.
Here’s another example. When many people deal with depression, either chronic or intermittent, in many cases it can be linked to a lack of the hormone, serotonin. Their brain isn’t sending the signal to release serotonin. Without serotonin, there is no sense of well-being or happiness, period. Many of the medications prescribed by doctors for depression or anxiety are designed to increase the release of serotonin.
What Do Hormones Have to do with Exercise?
Ok, so what do hormones have to do with exercise? Great question. It’s kind of a ‘chicken and egg’ thing. When we exercise there are more hormones released that make us feel better. Athletes, even weekend athletes, get that. You feel better about yourself after you exercise even if your body is sore. Where does that feeling come from? Hormones!
Great, but what if those hormones that make you want to work out aren’t quite flowing just yet? How do you get motivated to exercise, to begin with? We’ve got a solution for you.
How Can We Help Our Brain Release Happy Hormones?
How can we help our 50 plus-year-old bodies produce more of these happy hormones that will generally make us feel much better, contented and happier, and even be motivated to work out and exercise? We’ve got the answer!
There are certain natural substances called nootropics that fire up these neurotransmitters to release specific hormones like serotonin, as well as dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. What if you could supplement with nootropics and get these hormones flowing like they did when you were 25? You can! If you want to dive in deeper and learn more about Nootropics, read out article on Natural Nootropics.
Do you like coffee? If the answer is yes, we have something for you that gets your neurotransmitters firing again and getting those hormones flowing again. This will help you get past any motivational issues you might have with exercise and simply make you feel happier (even without exercise). Click the banners below and read about each. Read our Smart Coffee Guide to see which coffee we picked as the Best Nootropic Coffee.
What We Can Learn from Santo & Rose
In 2014 we moved from San Diego to Florida. It was time for a change as we had both lived in California for a long time. San Diego, although still a beautiful place, has become a traffic-laden, over-grown, and a very expensive place to live. We were looking for a stepping-stone to our retirement years and wanted to be able to live closer to the beach. Florida gave us that opportunity.
We moved into a nice 3-bedroom, 2 bath house a mile from the beach in Largo which borders Clearwater to the south. Our neighbors are a retired couple, Santo and Rose. They’re originally from New York but have lived here since the 1970s. Santo is 83 years old. Rose is perhaps a few years younger. But if Santo hadn’t told us his age, we would never have guessed he was in his 80’s. Rose either. You might think he was more like in his late 60’s perhaps.
Santo Keeps It Moving
Santo works in his yard every day. He trims, mows, sweeps, cuts or blows off something constantly. I used to do a lot of yard work but not anymore. I never really enjoyed it, but Santo does. So, when we need anything done, or when Santo thinks we need something done, he does it. Shirley had a tree outside her home office window that she wanted cutdown. She talked to Santo and that tree was gone within the hour.
What do Santo and his love for yard work have to do with what we’re talking about? Everything! Santo stays physically active. His physical activity feeds his brain, his mindset, his flow of hormones. He’s useful and productive. And, he does something that he enjoys every day. That’s where we all need to get to and stay there!
Why Listen to Me?
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Why should I listen to this guy?” I can understand that. All I can tell you is that I have thousands of hours invested into research, training, and actual workouts behind me. I’ve consulted with physical fitness professionals to ensure that nothing I share with you here will hurt you. Unless you overdo it, of course.
But even so. If you need more to convince you that getting your body moving at 50, 60, 70 and beyond is a positive thing to do, unless you have been advised by a physician not to, then read Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge.
Younger Next Year is written mainly for those in their 50s and older. The main premise of Younger Next Year is that if you do the right things for your body and mind you’ll not “be” younger next year of course, but you will look and feel younger next year. Younger Next Year is the book specifically written to wake us up and put us on a path that will help us rediscover health and vitality.
Get Your Body Moving Everyday
I didn’t forget. I know that I mentioned this above. And, we need to address it. Forget for a moment that you have haven’t exercised daily since the 8th grade in gym class. You are older now. What carried you along in the decades leading up until now is fading. Physically it’s all slowing down. Every bodily function doesn’t work like it used to. It’s part of aging. Remember, I’m 62 so I can say this because I’m experiencing it just like you.
So, we have a choice. Like many people, we can let nature take its course. We can look and feel older every day and accept it, hopefully gracefully. Or, we can do something to keep looking and feeling younger every day. Thus, the name of the book mentioned above. What that something is, is to move your body every day. And, I don’t mean moving from the kitchen to the living room, or from the house to the car. Folding clothes or mowing the lawn once a week doesn’t cut it.
30 Minutes a Day Minimum
I mean at least 30 minutes every day of getting the heart rate up to a moderate exercise level to get your blood, which carries wonderful things in it and cleans out the bad things from arteries and organs, pumping throughout your body. You need to exercise and do activities that make you breathe harder and make your muscles, joint and tendons move more and move faster.
What If You Miss a Day?
I know some people won’t get started at something that they should do every day if they think they might miss a day now and again. Is that OK? Yes! I miss days too. Just set the goal of exercising 7 days a week. Some weeks you might do 7 days. Some weeks 5 or 6. If you have a goal of 4 days a week, you may only do 2. That won’t cut it. At your age, you need to get your heart rate pumping 50% to 70% of your maximum, and then 70% to 85% eventually, for 30 minutes nearly every day of your life to look and feel better, and live longer.
Speaking of Heart Rate
Regardless if you were a long-distance runner in high school or a member of the band, you should be aware of your heart rate when exercising at our age (50 and older). Your heart may not have beat more than 85 bpm (beats per minute) in years. It wouldn’t be a good idea to kick that up to 140 right away. Go slow, ease into it.
I strongly recommend after you get approval from your doctor to exercise (read the disclaimer above), especially if you haven’t exercised in a while, that you keep your heart rate at 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate. This is considered Moderate Exercise Intensity. I’ll show you how to determine your maximum heart rate in a minute. Don’t worry for now about “getting into the zone” or the “Orange Theory” approach. You’re just trying to get your body and brain to actually enjoy whatever exercise you choose to do or exercise in general. Remember, start where you’re at!
When you first start exercising shoot for this:
- Your breathing picks up but you’re not out of breath. You can have a conversation.
- A light sweat starts after about 10 minutes of exercise.
- You can maintain this pace for an extended period, like 30 to 60 minutes.
- Your heart rate stays in the 50% to 70% area of your maximum heart rate.
How to Determine Your Maximum Heart Rate
There’s a complicated formula and a simpler formula. I’ve done it both ways. Seeing as none of us are going to be doing the Iron Man on Hawaii just yet I’ll show you the simple way.
Just remember the number 220. Subtract your age from that number. I’m 62 so 220-62=158. My Maximum Heart Rate is 158. It’s not a good idea to go over that. But remember we want to start out at a moderate level. The zone for moderate exercise is 50% to 70% of that. So, for me, that would be between 79 and 111 beats per minute (bpm).
Stop right now and calculate your maximum heart rate and the Moderate Exercise Intensity zone for you.
Your Vigorous Exercise Intensity heart rate zone is 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. Mine would be, based on a maximum heart rate of 158, 111 to 134.
Heart Rate Reality
The calculations above are estimates. But they’re good estimates for when you first get back into pushing the bpm's. You should pay attention to this for multiple reasons. The obvious reason is so that you don’t push your heart too much, too fast. But the other reason is that if you don’t push your heart rate up enough (at least above 50% of your maximum heart rate) for extended periods (like 30 to 45 minutes) you aren’t getting enough out of the workout. And, you won’t progress. If you don't progress in the way you look and feel it will tend to make you want to give up. 'Happy Hormones' won't be flowing.
Checking Your Heart Rate
You can check your heart rate in the old school way. Place your index and third fingers on your carotid artery on the left side of your neck to the side of your windpipe. To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon over your radial artery which is located on the thumb side of your wrist. I take my pulse for 20 seconds and then multiply it by 3 to get the beats per minute. You can use the clock on your cell phone. However, to do this you’ll have to stop exercising or just do it at the end of a workout.
Heart Rate Monitors Are Not Expensive
If you want to check your heart rate throughout your workout, you’ll need a heart rate monitor. If your doctor recommends a heart rate monitor, invest in one. They aren’t that expensive anymore. If you haven’t worked out in a long time or ever, then it’s a very good thing to have. People that have been athletes know their bodies well. They can sense when they are overexerting and need to slow it down. But you may, especially at the beginning, want to have a visual check on your heart rate to make sure you are staying in the Moderate Exercise Intensity zone and eventually the Vigorous Exercise Intensity zone.
Our Recommended Heart Rate Monitor is the Fitbit Charge 3
- Voted Tracker of the Year
- Worn on the Wrist (not around the chest)
- 24/7 Heart Rate
- Shows Real-Time Heart Rate Zones
- Daily Calorie Burn
- 7 Days Before Recharging
- Sleep Tracking
- Can Be Worn While Swimming
- Wireless Sync to Your Computer
- Available in Different Colors
Let’s Address Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure (consistently over 120/80) then you must pay attention here. The good news is that regular, consistent exercise is going to help you lower your blood pressure, and perhaps even eliminate the need for medication. But even if you have been exercising consistently, and you see your blood pressure come down to normal levels, DO NOT ELIMINATE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATIONS ON YOUR OWN. Consult with your doctor before weaning yourself off blood pressure medication.
Weight training may cause your blood pressure to temporarily increase during exercise. Still, weight training is recommended for all adult ages especially as we get older. Weight training, even with light weights, will help in the following areas:
- Stop the reduction of bone density
- Reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain, and depression.
- Help you manage your weight.
- Improve your balance.
- Help you sleep better.
- Improve glucose control.
- Increase strength and muscle mass while raising metabolism
Blood Pressure is an Important Indicator for Me
I need to closely monitor my blood pressure because I have just one kidney and a history of kidney disease. High blood pressure can be an indication that there is an issue with your kidneys. I have a blood pressure monitor and tested my blood pressure daily for months when I was amping up my workouts. What I discovered was the more I worked out, and the more intense my workouts got, the lower my blood pressure was.
Watch Your Blood Pressure Get Lower With Workouts
This morning, as an example, about an hour after I woke up and 2 cups of coffee, I checked my blood pressure. It was 142/82. This is not unusual the first thing in the morning. Blood pressure is typically higher when we first wake up due to the body's normal circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that affects our sleep/wake patterns. In the morning, the body releases hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline which will tend to increase blood pressure.
However, I then did a weight training workout. As you will see we incorporate cardio into every workout. After I was done and showered and back at the computer working, I took my blood pressure again. It was 114/63.
Regular Exercise is Good for Your Heart and Blood Pressure
Regular exercise strengthens your heart and therefore the heart needs to exert less to pump blood throughout the body. Therefore, your blood pressure drops.
When I tell people that I regularly take my blood pressure at home they ask me about what type of blood pressure monitor I use. I use a wrist monitor. It wraps around my wrist with velcro. I push a button and hold my hand above my heart. Within about 30 seconds I have a reading. I've checked it against the readings at the doctors' office and it is very accurate.
The Blood Pressure Monitor We Recommend is the iProven Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor.
It's simple to use and you can take it anywhere.
What About Cardio?
Cardio exercise is imperative for health. You’ve got to get your heart pumping blood at a higher rate. That’s why we incorporate some HIT (High-Intensity Training) into every workout. It also helps lose that stubborn belly and hip fat. In addition, once a week we do some high-intensity cardio, (running 3 miles), that keeps our heart rate high for 30 minutes or more. Don’t worry, we started off by walking which is where you should start as well. We also do one day a week of bike riding which doesn’t increase the heart rate anywhere near as much, but it holds it higher than normal for an extended period.
Should You Join a Gym?
Some people like going to a gym, others don’t. I’ve worked out in a gym and I’ve worked out at home. I’ll do either but I will say that I am more productive at home. I don’t have to take the time to make sure I pack what I need, drive to the gym, do my workout, and then drive home. I typically have notes about what exercises I do in each workout. You will too as I’m going to give you our workout routines. Every day is different (more on that later). I don’t like carrying those notes around with me at the gym.
To workout at home, you will need some equipment. Resistance bands and an exercise ball to start. Then some light weights. Then some heavier weights if you keep progressing. If you don’t have space at home for all that then a gym is a good option.
If you like going to the gym, feel that you need a gym to motivate you, need a fitness trainer alongside you, don’t want to buy any equipment or don’t have the room, then, by all means, join a gym.
We Work Out at Home
The workouts we're going to show you can all be done at home. That’s where we do them.
We do all the resistance band workouts in an area that’s approximately 7 feet x 6 feet. You’ll need a door on one of the walls in that area to set up the bands
Our weight training is all done in our living room. Our entire living room is 15.5 feet long x 13 feet wide, approximately 200 sq. ft. However, we only use approximately 6 feet of width. So, if you have a room that’s about 90 sq. ft., and a door to hook up the resistance bands, you can do all these workouts at home.
Below we give you a list of equipment you'll need for both the Resistance Band & the Weight Training Workouts if you want to do them at home. The only other piece of equipment that you may need is a bench for bench presses. Instead of purchasing a bench press bench, we opted to use some stools we have from our dinette. That way we don't have to store the bench somewhere in our 1,100 s.f. home. I cover the stools with a towel and we’re good to go.
Equipment Needed for at Home Workouts
Resistance Band Workouts
Resistance Band Set - We are huge fans of resistance bands, and as I've said above, it's where we started and recommend for you to start there too. The resistance band set we have is no longer available so we found one that is very similar.
WhataFit Resistance Band Set
Exercise Bands with Door Anchor, Handles, Waterproof Carry Bag, Legs Ankle Straps for Resistance Training, Physical Therapy, Home Workouts
Door Anchor for Resistance Straps- As you may have seen in the picture of the area where we do our resistance band workouts, we have two horizontal door anchor straps so we can do exercises that require pulling and pushing from different angles. However, when searching for one for this article I found one that I prefer. Instead of needing 2 horizontal straps as we have (so we don't have to move the strap during a workout), this one is vertical so you only need one. Brilliant!
Bandbuddy Multi-Position Door Gym Anchor Attachment
Exercise Ball- You'll need an exercise ball for some of the exercises in our programs. They are very inexpensive.
We Recommend the Trideer Exercise Ball because it's super thick and durable and comes with a pump.
Weight Training Workouts
Weight Set with BarBell and DumbBells
If you're going to work out at home you need a good weight set but not with a huge amount of weight. The set I have, I've had for years so I couldn't find that one for you. But I did find a great set that comes with:
- 2 Dumbbells
- 2 20 lb weights
- 4 10 lb weights
- 2 5 lb weights
The barbell is available in 2 pieces but I recommend you get the one piece. It's safer and ironically, less expensive.
Bench Press Bench
If you do want to workout at home but don't have stools or anything to create a bench, then you may want to purchase one. You won't need one with a rack as we aren't throwing around heavyweight. But if you do want a rack, by all means, hunt around on Amazon.
Medicine Ball- We don't use a medicine ball a lot so this could be considered optional. Having said that, medicine balls are a great piece of exercise equipment and we do use it for one exercise that's included in just about every workout.
Medicine balls come in different weights from 2 lbs to 20 lbs. Shirley and I have a 10 lb medicine ball and it works well for both of us. I found a Champion Medicine ball for you that is of good quality, and you can choose from many different weights when ordering.
Start with Resistance Bands
As I mentioned, I love working out. When I was rehabbing from major surgery in early 2018, I went back to my regular weight training that I’ve done for years at lower weight amounts, of course. But because my body overall was so weak from the surgery and lack of activity for about 3 months, lifting weights was the wrong thing to do for me at the time. I then consulted with a professional trainer who has trained Olympic and professional athletes and he directed me toward resistance bands.
If you do not regularly lift weights currently, I strongly recommend you do what Shirley and I did. Start with resistance bands. I had never used them before. That was the best advice we could have received. It allowed both of us to not only strengthen areas of our body without risk of injury, but it helped our muscle memory and reduced soreness that you can experience with weight training. Once you have spent at least a couple of months working out with resistance bands, and feel that you are ready for an additional challenge, switch to weight training.
I have always been in the good habit of warming up. I guess that comes from playing sports in my youth. It truly is a must and I’ll show you how I warm up to get my joints ready for exercise. I highly recommend that you either copy my warmup or develop one of your own and warm up before any type of exercise.
Stretching After the Workout
Stretching is a big part of learning how to get back in shape at 50 plus. However, I ironically had a challenge with remembering to stretch after a workout. That was never taught in junior or high school sports. Once practice was over you hit the showers. The problem that I’ve had, like many men and perhaps women, is that as I’ve aged my body has gotten tighter and less flexible. I was never super nimble and flexible anyway.
But as I got into my 50’s and now 60’s, stretching has become a major priority. Especially my hips, back, and hamstrings. I’ll show you the stretching that I do after each workout. As with a warmup, I highly recommend that you copy my stretching or come up with one yourself and do it after each workout. Because I believe stretching is so important, one of the weeks' workouts in both the Resistance Band Program and the Weight Training program is a Hip Stretch day.
Activities That Are Fun & Help Keep You in Shape
All work and no play is no fun. Part of figuring out how to get back in shape at 50 plus is enjoying it. Exercise should not be drudgery. Hopefully, you’ll look forward to it. Shirley and I feel that it’s about an hour of our day that gets our mind off what we think about all the other waking hours. And, if you can take day and weekend trips and do activities that incorporate exercise, you absolutely will look forward to exercising. Your daily routine will get you in shape for some great trips. And, you can exert yourself on these trips and feel great!
Try Riding Bikes
We have bikes and we LOVE to ride them. They are part of our weekly exercise. We are fortunate because we live a mile from the beach and quite often ride them on the beach for miles. There’s nothing more relaxing as you get your heart rate up riding in the sand.
We take them everywhere that we can. Our bikes have made road trips with us all over Florida and then some. They have been as far south as the Florida Keys and north to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was awesome to ride down Duval Street in Key West, check out historic Charleston, SC, ride the 20-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greensville, SC, and view the sites in St. Augustine, FL.
See and Do More With Biking
Here’s the thing we discovered about taking bikes on road trips. You can see way more than riding around in a car. On a bike, you go slower of course. But you can stop just about anywhere you see something that looks interesting. You just can’t do that in a car.
The other thing is you can get to more places than walking. Over this past New Year’s holiday, we rode the trails at Riverbend Park in Jupiter, FL. We covered about 20 miles. We passed this one couple about 4 times that were desperately wanting to see an alligator. They hadn’t seen any animals in the park yet. We had already seen deer, turtles, and a gator. We told them where we had just seen a gator but by the time they had gotten there, it was gone.
Find Great Hiking and Biking Trails Near You
As you can tell, we highly recommend buying some inexpensive bikes if you don’t already have them, and go riding! We have the good fortune that in our area (Clearwater/St. Pete) we have dozens of miles of paved bike paths including the 38-mile long Pinellas Trail.
Below, after we talk a bit about hiking, I list some free phone apps you can download and websites you can visit to help you find biking and hiking trails in your area.
Some Recommendations on Buying Bicycles
You can spend a lot of money on bikes if you like. We didn't. We're not doing intense mountain biking and entering into competitions that require speed. My bike is an inexpensive Kent 7-speed hybrid (mountain/road) bike. I'll show you some perfect Kent bikes below. I've had really good luck with mine.
Shirley's is pretty much the same but we did upgrade her a bit. We take them to the bike shop before any big road trip to make sure the brakes and gears are in good shape. I will replace my bike when this one dies. But because we ride on the beach, the road, and dirt trails I'm good with not spending a ton of money on a new bike. The one I have handles everything just fine.
I looked on Amazon and picked some similar bikes in quality and cost. See below. I suggest that if you need to buy a bike, and especially if you need to buy two as we did, then start conservatively. You can always upgrade if you need something faster, lighter, or with shock absorbers later.
Check Out Some Men's and Women's Bike Choices for Under $200
Bike Racks for Your Vehicle
If you've had a bike rack for your car before you may already know what type of rack you'd get. But if you've never had a bike rack on your car before, listen to this advice. The type of racks that essentially lean on the car and use the car for stability are not my preference. They are difficult and clumsy to install and everyone I've talked to has had problems. From scrapes to the car paint to actually dings. It's also difficult to raise the bikes up on the car without scratches, etc. Too much work.
The only type of bike rack to get is one that slides into a trailer hitch. Yes, it's more expensive because you need to get the trailer hitch installed. It may run you between $150 to $200 for the hitch and installation but it's worth it. I've had 2 installed. Both by UHaul. Then you have to buy the rack, of course. But this way you keep the bikes off the vehicle and you can still use your trunk or open the rear hatch of an SUV. Check out the bike rack on our Kia Soul.
Even though I recommend a trailer hitch mounted bike rack here are choices of each type of car-mounted bike rack.
Hiking for Fun, Adventure, and Exercise
Let me first share that I wasn’t a huge hiker or walker. It just isn’t enough action for me. It moves too slow. The only way I’ll get into going for a walk is if Shirley is with me. I find that we get to talk and spend some great quality time together.
I have changed my mind a bit about hiking though. That happened this past summer when we rented a house in Columbus, NC at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The first day we were there I used the TrailLink App (listed below) to find a place to go hiking. I found Alexander’s Ford, which is part of the 330-mile Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. This was an easy 1-mile trail in and 1 mile back that ends at the Green River. It was beautiful, peaceful and historic.
If you like history, especially Revolutionary War history read more about the Overmountain Men and their battle against the British that happened right here near this trail.
Hiking in the Carolinas
I really enjoyed the hikes we did in North and South Carolina (see below). Some required more exertion than others. I started to really appreciate the outdoors and nature. Having said that, I still prefer riding a bike on a trail, but incorporating hiking into a day or weekend trip is a great thing to do.
During our 5 weeks in North Carolina, we hiked and biked all sorts of trails. Here’s a list if you’re ever in the area:
- Alexander’s Ford (Hike)
- Brevard Bike Path (Bike)
- The Swamp Rabbit Trail (Bike)
- Thermal Belt Rail Trail (Bike)
- French Broad River Greenway (Bike)
- Little Bradley Falls (Hike)
- Oklawaha Greenway (Bike)
- Norman Wilder Forest (Hike)
- Pearson’s Falls (Hike)
Visit the Columbus, Tryon, Asheville, NC Area
Find Local Biking and Hiking Trails and Areas Near You
To help you find places to bike and hike in your area, both on pavement and off, here are 2 apps you can download or websites you can find online.
I strongly recommend that you use a Phone App to monitor and record distance as you run.
- Monitor each miles pace
- Shows time and distance
- Logs each run for comparison
What Do You Like to Do?
You’ll see in our workout programs, both Resistance Band and Weight Training, that we incorporate Biking and walking/running into them. You may like other activities such as volleyball, pickleball, golf, tennis, surfing, dancing, etc. Those are wonderfully enjoyable things to do. Learning how to get back in shape at 50 plus is about getting your heart rate up.
But be honest with yourself. If you like to play golf as an example, great! But it is not a replacement for 30+ minutes of getting your heart rate up so make sure you do something else for that purpose like brisk walking, hiking or eventually running. On the other hand, depending on if you play doubles or singles, and at what level you play, tennis may be perfect. Choose something that pushes your heart rate up to at least the Moderate Exercise Intensity zone. And, an activity where you can push yourself into the Vigorous Exercise Intensity zone when you’re ready. Remember, you can use a heart rate monitor like the Fitbit Charge 3.