New Year’s Goals to Stay Fit Over 50

elderly woman doing yoga on prosourcefit yoga mat with prosourcefit stability ball

Holly Pinkham |

Are you trying to stay healthy and fit this year but finding it increasingly difficult?

With each year after turning 50, your typical gyms probably seems less relevant - the loud grunts of men on the weight bench seems completely unnecessary; boot camp classes full of girls in sports make you feel out of place. Most magazines and blogs seem to forget that not everyone can jump, squat, and run without pain. The trendier fitness gets, the easier it is to get confused, overwhelmed, and unmotivated.

Don’t worry, though! I’m here to help you set some goals to improve your fitness in a way that will keep you motivated while keeping in mind that your body may creek and cracks more than it once did.

As a personal trainer, I’ve trained many adults over the age of 50, and more often than not they are capable of many of the same things that younger individuals are. Especially if you’ve maintained some level of fitness, then you should have no problem staying healthy as you age. If you haven’t been working out, now is still a great time to start.

Benefits of Exercise Over 50 Years Old

Many of my clients have come to me with knee pain, shoulder pain, lack of aerobic conditioning, and poor balance that we have to work around. However, the exciting news is that the more you work on these things, the stronger you get and pain tends to subside. Exercise can help to reverse many signs of aging, as long as you’re not overdoing it.elderly woman stretching on prosourcefit yoga mat with prosourcefit stability ball

It’s also important to continue to workout because as we age, muscle loss occurs, resting metabolic rate goes down, conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes become more of an issue, and weight gain is more likely. According to Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center, “As you age, your resting metabolic rate tends to decline by about five percent for every decade of life past age 40.” Working out, especially strength training, will help prevent that decline in metabolic rate and weight gain.

Some of the benefits of physical fitness over 50 are:

  • Reduced chance of chronic disease
  • Improved balance
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased metabolism & prevention of weight gain
  • Improved muscle tone and bone strength to combat osteoporosis
  • Lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Reduced need for some medications
  • Better quality of life

New Year’s Resolution Ideas to Stay Fit Beyond Your 50’s

Now that you know why staying fit is so important, let’s get practical. Fitness doesn’t to be all about weights at the gym or boot camp classes. Clear up the confusion and start with these super simple goals to quickly improve your overall well-being this year.  

1. Work on Your Core Strength and Balance

Balance is incredibly important for even the most basic of daily movements, like walking up stairs and getting up from a chair or the floor. Many older adults suffer from broken hips and wrists from falls, so balance is key for prevention. Core strength is also critical for spinal support, proper posture and preventing back and neck pain. Make it a goal to strengthen your core this year.

Try these options to get started:

  • Forearm Plank - Place forearms on the ground facing forward with elbows underneath shoulders. Extend legs behind you and prop yourself up on your toes, so only toes and forearms touch the ground. Pull in your lower belly toward your spine and hold this position up to 1 minute. If this is too hard, drop your knees to the ground to perform the plank.
  • Balance Exercises
    • Beginner: Stand on one leg for 10-15 seconds. Or, do a step-up onto a low aerobic step or box
    • Intermediate: Perform a strength training exercise, such as a bicep curl, while standing on one leg.
    • Advanced: Do a squat, lunge, or one-leg bicep curl on a foam balance pad or core balance disc.
2. Stretch & Strengthen Your Chest and Back

The majority of my clients deal with some sort of back, neck, or shoulder pain. If they don’t already, they often have poor posture, specifically a slightly rounded upper back, that will eventually lead to pain if not corrected. There are two simple ways to reduce and prevent this kind of pain and build muscle:

  • Stretch– Quickly open up your chest and restore the curve in your back by lying across a 36-inch foam roller. There are two ways to do this, as explained below. Perform these daily, and hold position for 1-2 minutes.
  1. Set the foam roller behind you, perpendicular to your body. Sit with knees bent and feet on the floor, then lie back across it on your upper back with arms crossed behind your head for neck support. Release your head back so back arches and you feel a stretch along your chest muscles.
  2. Lie down on the roller so your spine is aligned along the roller, head supported, legs bent with feet on the floor for balance, and arms extended to the side or behind you.  If you want to add in some core work, you can try lifting up both or one your legs into a bent knee position and balancing on the roller at the same time.elderly woman stretching upper back with prosourcefit foam roller
  • Strengthen – Building muscle in the upper and mid back is important for improving posture and drawing the shoulders back from the rounded position that happens from sitting too much. You can easily strengthen your back in the comfort of home with a resistance band. Simply anchor it into a shut door, or loop around a sturdy object that can’t fall over. Grab a handle in each hand, then step back far enough so arms are straight and there is some tension in the band (you may also do this while seated on the edge of a chair or stability ball). Slightly bend knees and pull the lower belly in toward your spine. Then, pull the band backward, squeezing your shoulder blades together and down. Slowly return to the start, then repeat about 20 times. Perform 3-4 sets of this. You can alternate between a palms-in position with your arms, and a palms-down position.
3. Walk with a Friend

More isn’t always better. Cardiovascular exercise like running can be hard on the body, and especially on joints. While it is important to get your heart rate up to the point where it’s difficult to have a conversation, it is also good to get in some lower intensity exercise which can help to reduce inflammation and stress hormones. Walking with a friend is a great way to do this. If the kids are finally out of the house or you’ve recently retired, this is a great way to socialize while getting in your 10,000 steps per day. Not only will the exercise release endorphins, but spending time building your relationships will also make you feel happier. A popular TED Talk by Robert Waldinger explains that studies show, “People who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”

Take 30-60 minutes each day to walk at a moderately brisk pace. If you want more of a challenge, you can also try Nordic walking or hiking local trails with trekking poles. Walking with poles not only helps with balance and increases your heart rate more, but will give your arms a bit of a workout at the same time.

Start doing all of these things 3-4 days per week, then increase from there are you become more comfortable. In just one week, you’ll already be on your way to better health and fitness!





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