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5 Cardio Protective Exercises for the Over 50s

5 Cardio Protective Exercises for the Over 50s

Protecting your heart is important at any age, but it becomes crucial as you grow older.

In fact, those over 50 are likely to gain the most from starting a new heart-friendly exercise program. Cardiovascular exercise keeps your heart and lungs strong. But, it also helps manage the aging process by giving you more energy, managing your weight, relieving symptoms of anxiety, and helping you feel younger.

Yet, as you get older, deciding how much cardio you should do and what kind of exercises are best for your body becomes more complicated. By the time you reach 50, you and your body have been through a lot. It is important to be kind and considerate to your body.

If you are over 50, moderately fit, and do not have any chronic health conditions, the American College of Sports Medicine and the Center for Disease Control recommendation cardiovascular exercise for half an hour a day, five days a week. Alternatively, you can participate in intense cardio for 20 minutes at a time three days a week.

To get started, choose an activity: it could be low-, moderate-, or high-intensity exercise, or your own unique combination of exercises.

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Use your body as a guide, and check out these five types of exercises.

  1. Low-Intensity Exercise

Low-intensity exercise includes exercise that you can do five days a week, or even every day depending on your preferences and health. They are perfect for this age group because they encourage you to get up and get moving, but do not require huge amounts of time or energy.

Examples of low-intensity exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Yoga
  • Recreational swimming
  • Pilates

These will help keep you moving and increase your mobility. They also give your heart the care it needs to keep beating with ease. They are a great place to start for anyone who has recently been ill, injured, or who has let their physical fitness lapse.

  1. Moderate-Intensity Exercise

Moderate exercise is for those who want to get a little sweaty. Done three to five days per week, moderate exercise might include actions like:

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  • Power walking
  • Tennis
  • Higher-intensity yoga
  • Golf
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Cycling
  • Gardening
  • Shoveling snow
  • Playing with children

Moderate-intensity exercise is a great middle ground between everyday activities and the most intense forms of exercise and is good for anyone in an intermediate stage of fitness.

  1. High-Intensity Exercise

If you have been active your whole life, or are healthy enough to choose to get active now, high-intensity exercise can help keep you moving at a fast pace for years.

Jogging and running are common exercises that are perfect for maximizing heart and lung health. These training techniques are known to lower blood pressure and reduce the need for at-home monitoring for those with cardiovascular problems.

Those who want the workout without the impact on their joints can turn to elliptical machine workouts, rowing, or cross-country skiing for workouts.

High-intensity interval training is a popular tool to use once or twice a week. Choose an exercise and alternate between comfortable or moderate levels and short bursts of all-out intensity.

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  1. Muscle-Building Exercises

Not only does strength training promote heart and lung health, but it also prevents your muscles from deteriorating. Additionally, gaining more strength makes cardio exercise easier on your body and helps you rebound from more grueling workouts.

Unless you are a gym bunny, start out with body weight exercises, like squats, to help keep major muscle groups thriving.

Squat in front of a chair, keep your arms in front of you, and hold that position before standing up again. Do two sets of 10 repetitions for the best results.

If you find body weight exercises too challenging, modify them. Use pillows or a chair for support to keep you upright. Remember, form is key. Do not over-extend yourself to the point where you are performing the exercise incorrectly.

  1. Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility exercises, like stretching, are also important for people as they age. Although most flexibility exercises are not likely to get your heart rate up, they do prepare you for cardiovascular exercise, and help you cool down after.

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Be sure to incorporate some stretching exercises into your workouts, or even create a day where you focus on flexibility on its own.

Once you have selected your activities, choose your duration. The recommendations listed above from the ACSM are a guideline, but if you have not exercised in a while, work your way up to that half an hour to build endurance. Start with 10-15 minutes, or even five minutes, of exercise, and go from there.

Finally, choose how regularly you want to exercise. Start by working out a few days per week to see how your body fares. Be sure to give yourself plenty of rest. Listen to your body; it will tell you whether you can train five days per week or if it is happier with only two or three days.

Follow these easy steps, and listen to your body and your doctor, and the next phase of your life could be your healthiest.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregoru via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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