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Exercise Routines for Men Over 50

Posted on March 01, 2016 by Beth Hartman

Simply being male automatically increases your risk of developing heart disease. Being older than 45 adds another risk factor that's compounded for African-American men. If you're inactive -- you do less than 30 minutes of moderate activity, at least, three times a week -- that adds another factor. Then there's being overweight, especially if you carry that fat around the middle. As a man over 50, you can't change some risk factors, but you can avoid or reverse others through proper diet and exercise, and the half-century mark is not too late to begin.  

As with any exercise routine, it's recommended that you consult with your physician before any fitness routines.  One way to stay on top of just how you are doing is to get yourself a fitness monitor. This way you can see your progress and if it has a heart rate monitor like the Fitbit Charge HR you can measure the stress your putting on yourself and adjust your routines when needed.


Cardio
The American Heart Association and others recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for health and weight maintenance, and twice that much -- or upping the intensity -- may be required for weight loss, according to Mayo Clinic. So your workout should include cardio on the treadmill, elliptical or stair climber at the gym or walk briskly or running outdoors. If it's been a while since you've exercised, don't try to prove something to the younger guys by running at top speed. Just like any muscle, your heart needs to be conditioned. Start at 40 percent to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate for 15 minutes, building to 30 minutes. After four to six weeks of regular workouts, up the intensity to between 50 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, and increase the time if you want to lose weight.
Lung capacity and heart strength diminish with age. Cardio exercise will strengthen your heart and lungs, burn calories, and metabolize fat as energy. If you have not been active, start with brisk walking or swimming. Do a brisk walk three or four times a week. Alternatively, swimming enables you to do a whole body exercise with minimal stress on your joints which may have lost some flexibility in your 50s.
Another option is to use a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine in a gym.

Resistance Training
Muscle begins to diminish around your 40s, and the loss accelerates even more after age 75. Like anyone of any age, you should concentrate on working the major muscle groups of the pecs, shoulders and upper back, lats, arms, legs, and abs. If you can do two or more sets of eight to 12 repetitions, by all means, go for it. However, the American College of Sports Medicine notes that for adults 50 to 65, one set of 10 to 15 reps may be just as good.

Work Your Midsection
Men sometimes focus on running and lifting and neglect their cores. A strong core leads to better posture, thus helping you avoid backaches. Plus it just makes you feel and look stronger when you can walk upright -- not stooped -- with a strong, straight back. Situps and crunches on the floor or a ball are as important for men as for women. As you get stronger, you can try inclined crunches or situps or a hanging leg/hip raise. You don't have to work fast; work smart. There's no reward for how many situps you can do in a minute. Instead, try to reach the deep muscles using proper form. And don't forget to work the opposing erector spine with back extensions.

Considerations
Your maximum heart rate is probably not as high as it used to be, so the standard 220 minus your age formula for tracking cardio intensity won't work. Outdoor training expert Courtenay Schurman recommends 208 minus 0.7 times your age. You may also find that you need more rest days between workouts. The general recommendation is at least 24 hours between working the same muscles. It doesn't matter how many days' rest you allow as long as you fit in at least two workouts per week. Balance and flexibility training are also something you may have overlooked when you were younger. After 50, it's important to include these in your regular workout routine.

Testosterone levels drop as a man gets older and hits his 50s and beyond. Excess weight is piled on, particularly around the belly and chest. The Mayo Clinic believes excess fat carried around the midriff increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. Any exercise program that helps improve health and reduces the risk of developing these diseases can be construed as the best exercise for men over 50. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Resistance Training

Muscle begins to diminish around your 40s, and the loss accelerates even more after age 75. Like anyone of any age, you should concentrate on working the major muscle groups of the pecs, shoulders and upper back, lats, ams, legs and abs. If you can do two or more sets of eight to 12 repetitions, by all means, go for it. However, the American College of Sports Medicine notes that for adults 50 to 65, one set of 10 to 15 reps may be just as good.

Do resistance training exercises two or three times per week. According to a study by the Laboratory of Sports Medicine, the Pennsylvania State University, reported in the February 1998 issue of the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," intense resistance training that engages sufficient muscle mass can increase testosterone levels. Focus on exercise such as the bench press, military press, lat pull-downs, squats or leg presses, which work the larger muscle groups. Start with light weights for 15 to 20 reps. Increase your weights over time, and do 12 to 15 reps. Increased muscle mass will help elevate your metabolism and improve your body's ability to burn fat.

Core Exercises
Core exercises to strengthen the stomach muscles and lower back should be part of an exercise plan for men over 50. Do three sets of a maximum number of crunches three times a week to strengthen your stomach muscles. Planks will strengthen your lower back and stomach muscles: Lie on your stomach, and raise your body with your weight resting on your forearms and toes. Keep your body in a straight line and do not let your butt stick up. Contract your stomach muscles and breathe normally. Hold position for a slow count of 20. Relax and repeat exercise for three to six sets.

Work Your Midsection
Men sometimes focus on running and lifting, and neglect their cores. A strong core leads to better posture, thus helping you avoid backaches. Plus it just makes you feel and look stronger when you can walk upright -- not stooped -- with a strong, straight back. Situps and crunches on the floor or a ball are as important for men as for women. As you get stronger, you can try inclined crunches or situps or a hanging leg/hip raise. You don't have to work fast; work smart. There's no reward for how many situps you can do in a minute. Instead, try to reach the deep muscles using proper form. And don't forget to work the opposing erector spinae with back extensions.

Caution
Remember you are not as young as you once were, so start your exercise program gently and only increase your workload and intensity as you get fitter and stronger. Seek the advice of your doctor before you start any exercise program. Get sufficient rest and allow your body enough recovery time between exercise sessions.





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