When you reach middle age, you might no longer fancy running a marathon or hitting the gym, but according to a 2012 study by the British Heart Foundation, it's never too late to start exercising.
The BHF's major study revealed a significant link between exercise and the suppression of inflammation in the body, which could contribute to heart disease, and getting fit at 50 isn't as arduous as it may seem. Check out some of the options available and tips for staying motivated, and keep your fitness at 50 and beyond.
Research has shown that getting fit with a friend can really help with motivation, so engage in some sociable sports or activities such as tennis or squash. A little competition does wonders for your motivation, and you'll barely notice that you're getting fit when you're in the midst of an exciting tennis tiebreak. Alternatively consider running or cycling clubs, where you can improve at your own pace but with the benefit of others' company and encouragement.
Make it fun
Picking an exercise regime that you enjoy is absolutely key to your fitness success, so if competitive sports or regular fitness classes are not for you, think about something more creative. Dance workouts such as Zumba are an excellent way to get fit without hitting the treadmill, and ballroom dancing classes are perfect for Strictly fans. Explore the ads in local newspapers or at your nearest sports centre - you might be surprised at what is on offer.
Engage body and mind
A cardiovascular workout is undoubtedly necessary if you plan to stay fit in middle age, but you can also gain serious benefits from more meditative practices. Both yoga and Pilates strengthen the core muscles, whilst improving co-ordination, flexibility and balance, but they are equally useful in terms of mental stimulation. After a stress-relieving yoga or Pilates session, you might just find yourself feeling energised and rejuvenated. Furthermore, it's a great low impact workout that could potentially benefit those with back problems.
Keeping fit and well is not just about joining a class or hitting the gym. In fact if you are already a healthy weight and in fairly good shape, just two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week can help you to stay that way. The good news is that moderate exercise could be anything from housework or gardening, to a brisk walk in the countryside. So don't panic if you can't face the gym - just ensure that stay active in your leisure time.
Motivation is a problem for many, both young and old, but there are useful resources available that could inspire you to keep going. For instance, Silverfit is a charity aimed specifically at the over-50s, and is an excellent place to find good advice and an added motivational boost. The NHS also provides handy information on how to get fit whatever your age, so check out their online Health and Fitness Guide to find a regime to suit you.
And lastly, remember that variety is the spice of life. If you are becoming bored of your chosen regime or are starting to lack the necessary motivation, look for something new. By varying your fitness activities, you'll enjoy your workouts more and stand a better chance of staying fit well into old age.
Are you over 50? What do you do to keep fit? Leave your comments below...