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Fitness Past 50

Fitness Past 50
August 05
15:41 2016
While some refer to age 50 as “over the hill,” others are finding that remaining fit and pursuing an active lifestyle post 50 is a very achievable goal.

When you’re in your 20s and even 30s, stretching before a workout might seem like a waste of time. But as our bodies age and grow stiff, joint health becomes vitally important. The National Institute of Health encourages us not to blame health problems on age, but on inactivity.

Think of those who have spent most of the past 40 years sitting at a desk all day. This sedentary lifestyle can lead to an increase in fat, a slower heart rate, and a loss of muscle mass. Because it encourages weight loss while strengthening bones and building muscle, exercise is the key to delaying and even preventing many serious diseases like diabetes.

Anne Balbach works as head of personal training at “Beyond Fifty,” a gym based in Wilmington, Delaware. She runs a weekly class that focuses on balance and flexibility to improve range of motion for muscles and joints.

“Take if Off,” the gym’s annual challenge, is centered on disease prevention.

Betsey Tootell AKA “Iron Gran,” one of the gym’s members, became an Ironman Triathlete after turning 50. “It keeps me young,” she says.

Regular exercise can be quite intimidating for those who have avoided the gym for too long. It’s important to start small and have fun with it. Group activities like Beyond Fifty’s balance and flexibility class are a great place to start

As we age, our balance and flexibility decline. At Beyond Fifty, workout coaches develop a specific routine for each member. “It all depends on what levels they are at,” says Balbach. “We definitely start them slow.”

A great way to burn calories while building up stamina is to combine cardio and circuit weight training. For example, alternate between 10 minutes on an exercise machine and 10 minutes running or walking.
And don’t forget to stretch!

LadyArmPullsHorizBeyond Fifty’s class beings with fluid movements that stretch the whole body. Many of Balbach’s participants have very tight muscles in their upper arms and shoulders. Balbach tends to focus a big portion of her class on stretching these muscles.

She also incorporates yoga-inspired leg and hip movements. For example: lie flat on your back and tighten your abdominal muscles. Pull your knees to your chest. Straighten out your left leg and slowly lower it (stopping just before you touch the floor). Hold it there for 20 seconds. Then, repeat with your other leg.

Going through a series of flexibility exercises is refreshing and relaxing. You’ll find that sometimes the smallest of movements can make a big difference.

Balbach also includes exercises that involve memorization and quick decision to strengthen the mind. “It just keeps people on their toes,” she says.

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