Keeping fit in your fifties and beyond

When it comes to staying fit, age is just a number for the likes of Fauja Singh and Julia ‘Hurricane’ Hawkins. Singh retired from marathon running at the age of 101, while 105-year-old Hawkins is still breaking world records with her sprinting.

Even if you’re only half their age, there’s plenty you can do to improve your fitness without having to break any records. Government guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, like running or playing sport.

Benefits of getting fit at 50-plus

There are plenty of reasons why it’s good to clock up those active minutes. It’s great for your physical health, reducing the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Your bones and joints will also thank you. From age 30 we start losing muscle mass and bone density, but some weight-bearing exercise like dancing or aerobics, or resistance work like weightlifting, can help to slow and even stop this process. This can keep conditions like osteoporosis at bay, and reduce the risk of falls.

Getting fit is also great for your mental health. Undertake any type of aerobic exercise and your brain will release feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin. Plus, as many fitness activities involve other people, you’ll get the benefits of an active social life.

How to get fit in your 50s

Finding an activity you enjoy is key, and there are loads to try. Local newspapers, leisure centres and community noticeboards will have details of what’s on in your area. Here are some ideas to inspire you.

  • Adrenaline junkies

If you fancy something energetic, running, cycling and triathlons are an option. Going out for a run or bike ride with friends, joining a club or getting involved with parkrun are great ways to get started. Parkrun organises free 5k runs every Saturday morning, in more than 750 locations in the UK, plus even more around the world.

  • Gym bunnies

Joining a gym or leisure centre is a great way to try out activities, with everything from badminton to boot camp on offer. Group fitness classes suit many people, with a regular diary date helping to make exercise a habit.

  • Bodybuilders

You might also want to try your hand at weightlifting. This is becoming increasingly popular among older people as it builds muscle, making it easier to perform everyday activities. The benefits could be even greater, with a 2019 study from the Exercise Medicine Clinic in Brazil finding that older people who lift weights live longer. However, the scientists do warn that lifting really heavy weights can reverse the trend.

  • Everyday exercisers

Exercise doesn’t even have to be mega-energetic to feel the benefits. Going for a brisk walk, or activities such as dancing and walking football will all get the heart pumping and give you that post-exercise glow. You might even want to add in some more relaxing activities such as Pilates, yoga or tai chi. These are great for your mental wellbeing but also increase strength and mobility.

Starting your 50-plus exercise programme

Before you start a new exercise programme, it’s sensible to speak to your GP. They’ll be able to tell you which activities are suitable and may even recommend some you hadn’t considered. If you have a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, they might prescribe an exercise referral scheme. These are subsidised programmes where an instructor works with you to improve your fitness.

Whatever you do, and however you do it, you’re never too old to start enjoying the health benefits of getting fit. As well as getting a regular fitness routine, you might want to consider a regular life insurance routine. An over-50s life insurance policy is a simple way to leave your loved ones a lump sum.

Find out more about over-50 life insurance and, to get a quote for your own cover, visit our website.


Co-op Over 50 Life Insurance is provided, underwritten, and administered by The Royal London Group.