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Best Exercises to Stay Fit After 50

Best Exercises to Stay Fit After 50

by George Zakharia, DPTLeave a Comment

The body is one resilient structure that changes based on the loads you put on it to protect itself from damage. This is the entire reason why we get stronger when we lift and better endurance when we move. However, if we stay sedentary, the body finds no need to get stronger or build endurance. Therefore, exercise may just be the best medicine to keep you strong, moving, and healthy, especially if you’re 50 or older. Read on to discover the best exercises to stay fit and healthy after 50!

Your Daily Dose of Exercise

It’s no secret that the older we get, the more muscle we can potentially lose. I say “potentially” as you have the power to slow or stop that process! Research indicates that muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60.1 This process is called sarcopenia which not only accompanies muscle loss, but also loss in muscle strength and function putting the elderly at higher risk of falling, developing osteopenia (weaker bones), and gaining more fat mass. Sarcopenia can also increase joint stiffness, may contribute to loss of stature, and increase risk for heart disease and diabetes. But luckily there is medicine that you can take to make this better! That medicine comes in many forms and names, but none that are difficult to pronounce. Once cleared by your primary doctor, it is advisable to take your daily medicine in the form of exercise. Most exercises can be performed by any person at any age as long as they are cleared by their therapist, perform it correctly, and progress gradually. In this blog, I will list my go-to exercises for adults 50 years or older.

Resistance Exercises for the Legs

Resistance exercises can be performed with or without weights. The general rule of thumb to increase muscle strength is making it tough but not impossible for your body to perform. For example, if you can complete 15 squats with ease, to increase your strength, you’ll need to add a load to make it more challenging on the muscles to evoke strength gains. These loads can include holding onto a weight or using resistance bands. Some exercises to try include:

  • Sit to stands/squats
  • Lunges
  • Deadlifts
  • Stair step-ups
  • Leg press
  • Heel raises

Advanced Exercises for the Legs

Looking for advanced exercises for the legs? Try adding a cardio component to them. By definition, a cardio component would be completing an exercise that is sustainable, uses large muscle groups, and repeatable. Here are just a few examples:

  • 30 seconds of sit to stands/jumping squats
  • Jumping lunges
  • Running in place with butt kicks
  • Stairmaster machine
  • Jump rope

Cardio Exercises

If the exercises above seem too advanced, you can try other cardio activities that will keep you working. Just ensure that it meets the criteria stated above. Some of my go-to exercises include:

  • Walking/running
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Stairmaster machine
  • Swimming
  • Jumping jacks
  • Sports

Resistance Exercise for the Arms

Don’t forget about the arms! Some exercises to try include:

  • Push-ups against a wall or table
  • Bent over rows
  • Shoulder raises forward and sideways
  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep kickbacks

Advanced Resistance Exercises for the Arms

To advance your arm exercises, you can try the following recommendations:

  • Push-ups on floor/bench press machine
  • Pull ups
  • Military press
  • Preacher curls/hammer curls/incline curls
  • Overhead tricep extension

Your Physical Therapist Can Help

When it comes down to it, we just need to move to improve our strength and body’s ability. When moving becomes easy, we add weight and watch ourselves get even stronger. Physical Therapists at Athletico are trained to provide the best exercises tailored to your needs and will coach and guide you every step of the way while preventing you from injury. Request a Free Assessment in clinic or online through our Telehealth platform to have our team of experts help you improve your strength while staying injury free.

Request a Free Assessment

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. Volpi, Elena, et al. “Muscle Tissue Changes with Aging.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2004,

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George Zakharia was a physical therapist at Athletico Physical Therapy at the time of this blog.

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