Your Fitness After 50: Right Now and In the Future
Fitness is so much more than what size you wear or your resting heart rate. It’s not about how fast or far you can go. It’s not a matter of what workout you’re going to do.
Your fitness after 50 has the ability to decrease your risk of disease, increase your longevity and the number of years you live healthfully (your healthspan). It’s dependent on so much more than whether you go for a walk or lift weights today. This is the big picture. Your fitness after 50 will be influenced not just by exercise but by so many more things. I’m including a comprehensive list here.
I encourage you to go through this list and see really consider how well you’re doing each. Here’s the Cliff notes list in case you’re in a hurry. You can jump down to read details about the ones that interest you most below.
- Lift Weights
- Exercise Less, Move More
- Sleep Deep
- Stress Less
- Get a Community
- Stop Your Limiting Beliefs
- Start Amplifying Your Good Habits
- Cook Your Own Food
- Stop Making Excuses
- Stop Thinking Its Optional
- Stop Doing More of What Doesn’t Work
- Eat Protein on a Per Meal Basis
- Identify Your Personal Food Blueprint
- Identify Your Personal Fitness Plan
- Rest During the Day to Sleep Better at Night
- Exchange Placebos for Real Energy
1. Lift Weights
Your fitness after 50 depends on muscle. Muscle is now recognized as a key factor in bone density- or prevention of osteoporosis, as well as increased metabolism, and necessary for thriving in life rather than simply preventing frailty.
Increases in muscle through overload improve body composition.
It is no longer about the amount of time spent lifting weights.
The longer your weight lifting session the longer the rest between exercises and it is not about time it is about the intensity of the load.
Bone doesn’t benefit from “more” repetitions of lighter weight – only from heavy weight you can lift few times.
Quality not quantity matters. That is, reaching fatigue, not the number of repetitions nor how long you do it matters. Like we’ve seen results from as little as 6 minutes of high intensity exercise a week (intervals) we have seen muscle-fatigue-inducing strength exercises in minutes reap better results than hour-long classes.
Strength and endurance benefits is necessary for the ability to do additional work of interval training that you will see offers big benefits. Weight lifting also increases bone density so that additional beneficial activity is safe. Any cardiovascular exercise is good for the circulatory system, but only weight training targets the skeletal system in a way specific to improving bone density.
In studies of weight training, interval training, and combined training weight training increases muscle mass and strength most.
2. Move More: Exercise Less
Your fitness after 50 has less to do with cardio than you might think. Make cardio about your mitochondria and hormone balancing. Use your DNA.Studies show that men age 70 can reverse aging with mitochondria regeneration comparable to subjects in their 20s. Why is mitochondria important?
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of energy in the body. The aging process – if you do nothing – will negatively affect the production of mitochondria. Small doses of high intensity exercise have proven to support mitochondria function – by as much as double in three or four months in minutes a week.
You will spend more energy all day by doing 2 training sessions a week than either one or three training sessions. That’s two sessions of strength, two sessions of intervals, and some additional exercise that’s more endurance based or simply a lot of movement daily.
Samples of Intervals:
Perform 8 seconds on and 12 seconds of recovery 20 times. This is easiest to do on a bike, but it’s a challenge with almost any kind of exercise because it’s a very short amount of time to increase your work capacity to full out. Be sure your well warmed up before you begin. That’s a little over 2 and a half minutes of high intensity exercise. It’s been proven to increase fitness (in women in midlife).
In the Wingate Test protocol you do 30 seconds of all out exercise and 2 minutes of recovery 4 times for a total of 2 minutes of work. You can run or power walk up hill or an incline, go as hard as possible on an elliptical or bike or do it in a pool.
You can reduce time needed to exercise by doing these types of interval training sessions for 20 minutes twice a week (in addition to strength training twice a week), in order to have more energy for being active all day. The result is greater overall energy expenditure and reduced obesity and overweight. That’s less exercise and more movement.
3. Sleep Deep
If all you had to do was sleep more to lose weight would you go to bed sooner? Long sleepers compared to short sleepers lost more weight and more of the weight lost was fat (less muscle loss that is a natural occurrence with weight loss). Perimenopausal women all in the same weight loss program with similar status were subjects. So yes, it applies to you.
The regeneration of the mind and the body that takes place at night is the glue that holds all your other positive habits together. Pad your sleep time like bookends with habits – a routine – that prepares you for better sleep every night. If you’re not sleeping at night, tell yourself it’s just that you haven’t prioritized it.
Tell yourself that you haven’t yet found the right habits. Tell yourself that it’s possible to recondition and reset your circadian clock for better sleep.
Hormones responsible for decreasing stress (cortisol and melatonin) and promoting lean muscle tissue (growth hormone and testosterone) require deep restful sleep.
Eat carbohydrates later in the day, close the kitchen after dinner, get exposure to sunlight early in the day, and exercise – even 10 minutes daily improves sleep – just not too close to bedtime.
Your fitness after 50 will be limited or supported by your sleep.
4. Stress Less
If you have a rich life full of family, work, and activities you love, you’ve got stress. There’s no way around it. So this is no empty “lower your stress” advice. Embrace it!
The only time you won’t have any, you’re close to dead. Your fitness after 50 is a dance between exercise stress and other stress in your life.
By increasing physical strength with the right exercise you enhance resilience
Increasing the joy factor (laughter, love, relationships, experiences)
Decreasing the toxic exposure (chemical exposure>food, water, air, products)
Physical stress from toxins, lack of sleep, dieting or over exercise, as well as emotional stress all contribute to your stress load. Control what you can. Small daily actions add up.
What you’re taking out and what you put in both matter. Know that some of us do handle stress better than others naturally, but it’s also possible to adapt so you can handle stress better. If you have a strong “why,” what I call a “cry why,” that makes it all worthwhile, it helps. Make sure there is purpose to your life in ways you need it. Exercise is a big part of increasing your resilience to all kinds of stressors.
Boost removal of toxins stored in your body by gradually adding more fiber. Start with this healthy chia pudding recipe. Use this base or start getting creative with your own ideas.
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein (Paleo is delicious!)
- 1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
Pour the chia seeds into a bowl. Blend the protein powder and milk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the chia seeds. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy. This high protein pudding can double as a breakfast or a post-workout snack, depending on your goals and needs. Either way, it’s a craving killer that can satisfy you for hours. Make a couple and take one with you when you travel. Pop it into an insulated bag. Don’t forget the spoon!
5. Get a Community
Socialize with people doing what you do or want to do, thinking the way you think or want to, you soon change your thinking>actions>habits and life
We know it to be true of cults and in scientific experiments.
Research tells us that resistance to change both internal and external is one of the greatest obstacles we have. When you’re surrounded by peopledoing what you’re doing or what you want to be doing you are more successful.
If you have kids you know this one well. Remember how important it was that your kid’s friends were good kids? It’s no different for you.
It’s not that you won’t have resistance to change, but when you have more people going the same direction around you that resistance has less chance of stopping you. Your fitness after 50 is a factor of who you surround yourself with. Who do you spend the most time with?
6. Stop Your Limiting Beliefs
You’ve first got to identify that you have thinking that’s holding you back. That’s part of joining a community or having a coach. How else would you know?
Next, you have to want to change. In the past 25 years many women (who were only doing body weight exercise) ask about body weight exercises for bone density and changes in body composition. When I share the science there are about 50% that will respond, I’m going to stick to my body weight exercises, thank you.
Your fitness after 50 can’t be better than the expectations you have for it.
If you believe something is true, the biology of that belief, (it’s not just a thought), has the potential to change the expression of your DNA. If there is any tendency for it to happen genetically, your belief will be fertilizing it. Or you can pull a bad weed by believing and acting in a way that won’t allow a genetic predisposition to occur.
I’m sharing the example of the famous hotel maids study in our masterclass to illustrate this.
7. Start Amplifying Your Good Habits
The thought that a good habit is good for you (like going for a walk every day) makes it more beneficial. If you remind yourself that by being busy at work even if you have a fairly sedentary job is good for your brain health and lifting weights over your lunch hour three days a week is keeping you fit the affirmation and belief has the potential to enhance your memory and the benefits of strength training sessions.
If we could test you for 8 weeks with your normal habits, and then test again after 8 weeks of thinking it was true, science has proven that you would experience all the benefits of weight training (strength, endurance, decreased body fat, increased muscle tissue) more significantly during the second eight weeks.
That famous hotel maids study illustrates this point perfectly, too. (Are you getting invites to join my free monthly masterclass? You can get the juicy stuff I only share via email here.)
Your fitness after 50, therefore, can improve without more time and energy, so long as you’re already employing good habits.
8. Cook Your Own Food
Almost anything you eat out of convenience (with a few exceptions popping up) is going to have more sodium, sugar, and saturated fat than you would cook at home. Further, even the salad bar is not safe with chemicals added to the greens to preserve them.
On average eating out increases caloric intake by 200 more calories per meal. If you eat out the average 5.8 times a week, that’s 1160 more calories a week – of more saturated fats, sodium, and sugar. Your fitness after 50 will be enhanced by the right nutrition and sabotaged by poor nutrition.
In addition to cooking at home, eat slow. Eating fast – the 20-30 minutes per meal Americans spend on average… often rushed, checking email, means you don’t even have the enzymes to digest food, leading to digestion and elimination issues.
9. Stop Making Excuses
Nearly every excuse you give for not exercising is a reason to exercise. You have achy joints and muscles… exercise. You are afraid of falling or getting injured… exercise. You never have enough time… exercise. You are too tired… exercise.
Ask, do I want that to be true?
I’ve been there. Married with kids, jobs, and a dog. Single parent with a house, a yard, two jobs, constant contact to hundreds of clients and students, writing a book, training for an Ironman, at every golf meet. I know about busy. Don’t talk to me about busy. You just decide.
10. Stop Thinking Its Optional
If you were sick and needed lifesaving medicine, you wouldn’t dream of not taking it. Exercise prevents nearly every major disease. Why get it in the first place?
The terms Exercise is Medicine, and Food is Medicine have both become not just mantras and memes but scientific solutions to contemporary problems.
If you develop a daily regime of movement your fitness after 50 will improve. Your commitment to the exercise gets easier. When adults who exercise regularly don’t get their regular dose, they don’t feel as good, sleep as well, think as clearly or handle stress as well.
You can become one of those people.
11. Stop Doing More of What Doesn’t Work
When you’re not getting results from your current exercise program, there is no logic whatsoever in doing MORE of it. Increasing frequency and or duration of exercise is often the first default. Women assume that it’s their fault and they need to exercise more. But more exercise that isn’t already making you feel good… is certainly not going to make you feel great.
If you’re not seeing and feeling better from the exercise you do now, don’t increase the frequency of it expecting to see better results.
Improving your fitness after 50 isn’t about doing “more” if it’s going in the wrong direction. Check in with your exercise prescription now and be sure it is in alignment with your needs and not based on some arbitrary governmental recommendation or you 20 years ago.
If you’re exercising all the time, you may need to stop! Doing less can be smarter. Figure out some other way to pacify or calm yourself.
12. Eat Protein On a Per Meal Basis
It is no longer a grams per kilogram body weight, or a total at the end of the day, or worse a percent of your total diet. It’s a much more user-friendly meal-based number of grams of protein.
Early and continued research by Rasmussen and Jones and now an expanding number of protein experts both from exercise science and nutrition are coming together on this.
Much of this research compared younger and older adults to each other. Older adults actually needed more, not less, due to decreased muscle protein synthesis. Your fitness after 50 is dependent on muscle. No matter what else you want to do or measure of fitness you want to improve you’ve got to have protein, the building block of muscle in order to enjoy optimal fitness.
13. Identify Your Personal Food Blueprint
Your stress level, prior eating history, exercise, exposure to foods that cause inflammation all influence your personal ability to breakdown food and digest it optimally.
While it’s true few individuals have Celiac disease, many functional doctors who work with women in midlife recommend omitting dairy and gluten because they find that 90% of their female patients feel better when they do.
You can test for yourself on several levels. Your body never lies. So removing and reintroduction is a step I recommend every woman do. Lab testing can confirm or reveal additional information. DNA testing can show what may be true of you and encourage greater commitment to solutions. Testing:
Use“Genes” for DNA testing 20% off (ends Dec. 20)
“28for10” for the 28-Day Kickstart January
“Flipping50” for $20 off your Micronutrient testing at yourlabwork.com/flipping-50
14. Identify Your Personal Fitness Plan
The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women is about optimal hormone balance. A 2 x 2 program following a foundation of hormone reset optimally improves fitness and negates the negative effects of stress that can occur from exercise.
From your DNA, and your personal preference or dread, you can determine the best way to spend your exercise time to get optimal results. Your fitness after 50 journey should be fun, uplifting, and exciting. If you haven’t found those activities or motivators keep looking!
15. Rest During the Day to Sleep Better at Night
What’s referred to as “wired and tired” can be avoided by avoiding the feast or famine adrenalin rollercoaster most of us are on during the day.
If you’re constantly in fight-or-flight mode your body can lose the ability to rest-and-relax. Those systems, your sympathetic and parasympathetic system are meant to balance and in contemporary life, unless you override the constant on call and unplug, they fail to work correctly.
Fight-or-flight will eventually begin to store fat for you to protect you. Rest-and-relax won’t work at night if you’ve not balanced that on and off switch during the day.
It works occasionally: it was meant to, but unfortunately, we’ve turned life into constant flight-or-flight.
16. Exchange Your Placebos for Real Energy
Reaching for sugar and caffeine to wind up and wine to wind down or numb yourself all increase your weight, interfere with your sleep, and accelerate aging.
Caffeine consumption – if it’s abundant – is actually related to weight gain. It increases insulin resistance and signals your body to crave glucose-containing foods because it reduces blood sugar.
The simple advice is this. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re no longer hungry. Sleep when you’re tired. Drink before you’re thirsty. When you’re upset with someone have the difficult conversation.
If you’re not doing that, start. If you’ve ignored the urge to go to the bathroom, the need to drink more water, the need for sleep you’ll need to retrain your brain to pay attention.
One more energy placebo is adrenalin. You know you’re operating on adrenalin if you’re always waiting ‘til the last minute, or adding something to your to-do list, you’ve always got a dozen projects and your pushing to get something done. You’re always running late, or close to it. You might complain about it, but you actually don’t know how to exist with sustained stable energy.
Unlearning your old habits and replacing them with new ones can reverse aging, increase energy and you can start feeling it in days or weeks.
Have you got a story to tell about your fitness after 50 journey? I love to hear from you. Our community is inspired to hear real stories of people defying old limiting beliefs!