Reaching age 50 presents an important choice to many people … either sit back and take it easy or get moving. Medical professionals tell us that if you want a healthy body and mind, you must become even more active … exercise, workout, stretch, jog, bicycle. BoomerCafé contributor Bob Merz is an expert in this area – he runs gym programs and a website, “50plusPlusFit.”
Some of my boomer friends have asked me if they can really start a fitness program now. They know that I began in my late forties and wonder if it’s too late since they’re in their 50s. I tell them “heck yes you can start now, just because you’re 50, 55, or even 63 like me, anyone can start at any time and be 50plusPlusFit, and I’ll help you in any way I can.”
I tell them that it’s really no different than that Spanish class they’re taking, that new business they’ve just launched, or that pottery class, or the advanced degree they’re going for, or the sculpting they’ve gotten back into after abandoning it for so many years … if you want it, go for it! Being a boomer and fit will do nothing but enhance your lifestyle.
In fact, I tell them that the personal transformation that they can experience will be nothing short of amazing! Will the transformation show up tomorrow? Well of course not. But, especially if they’ve been neglecting their fitness for several years (or nearly forever), the progress they will make is like the growth of a young child. It will happen in significant “spurts.” The progress they experience will be similar to those high percentage increases you can see when a sales curve starts from a low base, or the fast growth of a new springtime plant blooming.
And, now here is something to look forward to as you progress – you can even gloat, if you’re so inclined. Or at least this will happen; you’ll be working out at the gym, or just seeing friends socially, and people will notice a change in you. Oh yes, they will notice, and they will comment. And at that moment, you’ll be able to do that gloating thing, or just bask in that bright light called admiration! And you will feel really, really good. So go for it!
And let’s get one thing out of the way up front. I’m also asked if you will injure yourself starting at this age. And I’ll say it without hesitation … no, no more than anyone years younger … not if you do it right. So here’s how to get back into it.
We see new clients of all ages (and especially 50+) come into our club and begin a workout plan. And, if they have not worked out in awhile (or ever!), they do need to begin slowly, just as we would with anything else new. Example: once a 55 year old woman started with me. In industry lingo, she was de-conditioned – a little overweight, no balance, no core strength and poor upper-body strength.
We began with 2 sets of exercises on each major muscle group at very light weights. A couple of weeks later, she said, “this is getting easy, let’s go up on the weights a little.” At that moment, I knew that she was not only ready for more weight, but also a third set of each exercise as well. A month later, she was using double the weight she was comfortable beginning with. And in addition to becoming stronger, she had lost weight that was really noticeable!
So, about that injury question – stepping up to the charge of increasing physical activity doesn’t come without potential peril! If you’ve been sedentary for awhile or possibly never worked out, you need to know how to proceed properly without sustaining an injury. That can come from anything like dropping a weight on your foot, to a muscle strain or sprain. And, “hitting it hard” can cause you to miss working out for 10-15 days because you’re too sore. That does not move you forward!
Many boomers begin a workout routine for various reasons including strong advice from their doctor, significant event approaching, more leisure time with kids grown and career established, etc. Whatever the reason, the journey is the same – start out carefully as you would with any other new physical endeavor and build gradually on your continued success.
And by the way, if you haven’t worked out since, oh say, college or high school, workout theory has changed and continues to change every single day. So, be sure to base your workout plan on current fitness trends – for example, a full-range sit-up is no longer considered an effective or safe abdominal workout! To be safe, you might want to hire a certified personal trainer to guide you along.
Or if you want a more affordable option, or you just need a refresher, try an online personal trainer. Our website is among many good resources. Either way, anything worth doing is worth doing correctly, and safely. So, if you were thinking it’s too late, get up from that couch and get busy – for your 50plusPlusFit quality of lifestyle!