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What Are The Signs of Good Health After 50?

As we breach the border of 50, many of us develop a habit of letting ourselves go, don’t we? And then, one day, you’re walking down the sidewalk and catch a glimpse of your reflection in a shop window, and you’re filled with immediate self-loathing and embarrassment. “How on earth did I get this flabby?” or “What the heck, is that me? might be the thoughts swishing your mind moments later. The harsh reality is that, yes that is you. But there’s some good news too – you can make vast improvements if you’re willing to put in the work. Now, we aren’t talking about liposuction and botox. While those are options for some people, we would prefer to steer you towards a more natural path.


a man playing on a tennis court getting ready to play
Look and feel good after 50 by staying active.
Table of Contents:

Feel Good After 50

First, it’s imperative to tell you that it’s normal to start feeling uncomfortable with the way you look as you get older. Think about it; you have never seen yourself in this older state before, and for many, it’s a difficult phase of life to accept. In the first place, you’re already feeling bad or awkward about the way you look, so you could be looking at your reflection a little too critically. In the second place, you don’t have to settle for old age. You can do a bit of moving (and shaking if you wish) to get your body into its best possible state. You can be 50+ yes, but you don’t have to look or feel it.


Here’s how exercising improves your looks and feelings:

-It melts fat

-Regular practice helps you maintain a healthy and sustainable weight.

-It develops muscle tone (which looks great on men and women!)

-It improves posture (thanks to strengthening muscles)

-It boosts energy levels (which puts a confident pep in your step)

-It promotes the production of endorphins (which leaves you feeling good about yourself)


Promote Healthy Organ Function

We all hear the stories about people we were in school with suddenly developing cancer, battling a degenerative respiratory condition, being tortured by seeming incurable restless leg syndrome or similar? These issues speak to incorrect functioning and poor health of organs and, of course, lifestyle choices. Of course, you cannot go back and right the lifestyle choices of the past. Still, you can reduce your chances of becoming another victim or statistic by making better lifestyle choices now. And you guessed it; strength training is on the top of our list of better lifestyle choices.


When it comes to healthy organ function, here’s how exercising helps:

-Reduces anxiety and relaxes muscles (goodbye restless leg syndrome).

-Increases blood circulation, thus delivering more oxygen to organs and helping them do their jobs a bit better.

-Lowers the risk of colon and kidney cancer – according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, people who do strength training each week are 22 to 25% less likely to develop colon cancer. The same study showed a moderate reduction in the chance of developing kidney cancer.

-Improves heart and lung functionality: when your muscles are strong, there’s far less demand on the heart allowing your lungs to process more oxygen with less effort. The heart can do its job in fewer beats!


Deter The Wearing Down of Cartilage

Most people 50+ wrongly assume that cartilage wearing down is a fact of life that comes from too much wear and tear. Because of this assumption, they also believe that exercise will cause further wearing down of cartilage and so avoid it. But what if we told you that is entirely untrue? You may argue that arthritis is a form of wear and tear, and that alone is evidence that consistent use of a joint can lead to wear. We beg to differ. If that were the case, then right-handed people would have more painful arthritis in their right hand, right?


Studies have proven that exercise does not negatively impact the wearing down of cartilage unless you are exercising on an injured joint. Now, we aren’t suggesting that you head out for a 5-minute mile run when you have osteoarthritis in your weight-bearing joints (think the knees, lower spine, and hips, for instance), as this will merely aggravate your symptoms. What we are saying is that slow, steady, and purposed exercises – such as those in a well-thought-out strength training program – can be just what your body needs to increase bone density and improve muscle strength without wearing down your cartilage.


Improve Range of Motion

If you’ve ever seen an older person struggling to reach a product on a higher shelf at the supermarket because they just can’t seem to extend their arm fully, you have witnessed a limited range of motion in action. Limited range of motion is a nasty little side effect of old age, but like many other symptoms and side effects, you can reduce its impact exponentially with regular maintenance. If you see somebody 50+ moving fluidly, as if they have no joint or range of motion issues whatsoever, it’s probably because they never stopped moving. Let’s explain that.


As the body gets older, it’s going to hang onto the functions it does most often. For instance, your legs are used for walking, and you often walk – so there’s no issue there, but you don’t often squat or reach out for things! With each year that passes that you don’t squat down to pick something up or fully extend your arm to reach for things, the less ‘essential’ that movement becomes and the less familiar the body is with that movement. It’s almost as if you start to stiffen in those areas, but we all know it’s a lot more scientific than that.


The point is that if you don’t squat, stretch or practice picking up slightly heavy things, it will negatively impact those movements and the full functionality of the joints involved. Resistance training is a form of maintenance. It helps all your joints and muscles practice their full range of movement, and when that range becomes slightly limited, you can use strength training to reverse the adverse effects.


Boost Agility and Power

Let’s start with some definitions.

Agility. Being able to speed up, slow down, stabilize and change directions with the correct posture quickly.

Power. The maximum amount of force or resistance the muscles can exert on an object.


Now let’s think about what these two things mean in terms of real life. Walking the dog, running after your grandkids, jumping up with excitement when hearing good news – these are all things that require agility. Standing firmly on your feet when your grandchild runs into your arms, pushing a lawnmower, or catching something heavy as it falls – these are things that require power. And newsflash, you’re not going to get the type of agility and power you need on a treadmill. Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying that treadmills are out. We’re just saying that treadmills and elliptical machines, and pedal bikes, for that matter, place no emphasis on transverse or frontal planes of motion. You may get fit and quick, but whether you will get agile and powerful is questionable. As you get older, your physical workouts should focus on exercises that promote stability in all planes of motion. This can be done by carrying out movements at varying speeds and multiple body positions – in short, you can do this with resistance training. Resistance training develops the muscles and their strength to improve both agility and power overall.


a man who is over 50 years old is playing tennis
The primary muscles that your body uses for balance are the leg and core muscles.

Improve Endurance

Some people think that endurance is all about speed. They think that endurance in exercise or life is about doing things faster and faster with more precision. And while this is part of endurance, it’s not what it’s all about. Endurance is also about having the energy, strength, and power to do certain things/exercises longer without tiring. Do you know when your grandchild wants to run up and down the garden path again and again? Yup, you need endurance for that. That’s just one example – you can surely come up with many more. Think about activities and exercises that you often find yourself getting tired really quickly in. With a bit of an endurance boost, you can do these things for longer without feeling fatigued.


Here’s the good news, strength training, when it is done correctly – and by that, we mean the correct exercises, the right number of sets and reps, with the correct weights and appropriate rest intervals – can dramatically boost your overall endurance. The exercises do this by increasing the amount of force that your muscle fibers produce, and it’s only able to do this by strengthening your muscles in the first place. When the muscles exert more force and are more robust, they can repeat this motion over and over without becoming fatigued.


Improve Balance and Stability

Most of us don’t remember learning to walk and because after that, balance just seemed to come naturally to us, we forget all the things that we need balance for in life.


Well, here’s a reminder! You need good balance and stability too (yes, you need to be firmly planted on your feet) for:

-Walking

-Leaning over to look at something or tie your shoelaces.

-Getting out of a chair

-Standing on tiptoes to see something

-Carrying plates of food


What creates balance?

This is an interesting one to think about, especially as we have already covered the fact that your muscle strength diminishes as you age. Your muscles play a large role in balance and stability, along with other things like the snippets of info sent from your eyes to your brain, your joints, and even your ears have a little something-something to do with it. Just knowing this makes it quite evident how the effects of aging can cause balance and stability to deteriorate. Now, let’s consider how exercising can help you maintain good balance and stability. Resistance training involves strengthening the muscles that help keep you in an upright position. The primary muscles that your body uses in this process are your leg and core muscles. With a well-designed strength training program, you can strengthen your leg and core muscles and, in turn, improve your overall stability while preventing falls. We always want to be showing signs of good health.


Boost Your Metabolism

Metabolism is a sensitive topic for many people, especially those who feel their metabolism isn’t fair to them. So first and foremost, what is metabolism? It’s just one of those fancy words for the chemical process your body goes through when it converts food to energy. Understanding that definition may give you a good idea of why some people blame weight gain on their metabolism. If your metabolism is sluggish, your body won’t convert food into energy quickly enough, which means that your body won’t burn the energy but rather store it. Uh oh, that’s terrible news for your waistline!


The reality is that as you get a little older than 50 (probably a bit before, too), your metabolism slows around 5% each decade. Yikes! Does that mean that nature’s against you, so you’re doomed to gain weight and become a blob? No, it doesn’t. It simply means that you have to move a bit more and start making healthier, low-calorie nutrient-rich food choices. What is resistance training’s role in your quest for a speedier metabolism after 50? Well, the training boosts metabolism – that’s its role. While exercising, you will actively burn calories.


Building strong muscles doesn’t just help you burn calories while you are working out, though. Healthy, well-worked-out muscles even burn calories while they are resting. In fact, studies show that strong muscles burn around 50 calories per day per pound (1/2 kg) of muscle, whereas fat cells only burn around three calories per day per pound (1/2 kg) of fat. This, for us at least, is an excellent reason to start strengthening those muscles!


Promote a Positive Mindset

Let’s talk about your mindset for a bit. Are you one of those 50-year-olds with a scowl on your face making grumpy comments about the state of things whenever there’s the opportunity? Or are you the type of 50-year-old that people enjoy being around because you have happy and positive energy? Who you are as a person, how you feel about life, and how you interact with the world around you all come down to your mindset. What you think will ooze out of every pore of your existence. To avoid becoming that grumpy old person who lives down the road that the neighbors make a wide berth around, you must do things that promote a healthy and happy mindset. You need to stop dwelling on the negative and start incorporating activities into your life that get you in an excellent mental and emotional space.


Exercise has been proven to promote a positive mindset; in fact, it’s one of the most effective strategies for promoting positive thinking. So how does it do this? Exercise releases endorphins, and you know what those are, right? They are hormones that make you feel good. Also, when doing activities like strength training, you have a clear focus on a particular activity which helps to take your mind off other stressful or pressing issues. Getting your mind off the worries you have is almost as good for you as going on an all-expenses-paid holiday of your dreams!


Signs of Good Health

Let’s take a quick look at how resistance training promotes a positive mindset:

-It boosts confidence by making you look better.

-Increases energy so you can enjoy your life more.

-The endorphins flood you with feel-good hormones.

-You have an inner sense of accomplishment as you reach your fitness goals.

-It gets your mind off other problems.


Now that you have done a bit of reading and better understand the benefits of exercise and resistance training (and how it can help you) let’s get started and send those aches and pains packing!


Life can be amazing, especially when you're physically able to enjoy it. Make this the healthiest time of your life! There's no reason you should spend the rest of your life in pain, discomfort, and declining health.


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