What is unique about getting in shape over age 50?
The biggest issues in people over 50 getting in shape come from: 1) injuries they have sustained; and 2) chronic conditions they may have developed.
Injuries tend to be specific to the individual. Some come from accidents, others from over use or degeneration.
For someone considering getting in shape, it is imperative that their unique injuries be rehabilitated by a professional physical therapist. A Sports Medicine practice is a good place to find qualified rehabilitation specialists.
Chronic degenerative conditions can very often be corrected through good physical training and proper nutrition. The most common chronic condition for those over age 50 is excess body fat.
Other common degenerative conditions that people over 50 can experience are heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and poor muscular development.
These conditions can be positively impacted by physical training and proper nutrition. However, as these conditions can vary in severity, it is essential to be examined by a physician before undertaking an exercise program.
If a person has no injuries or chronic conditions, they can utilize most of the same training protocols as younger people.
What are the biggest physical training risks for someone over age 50?
My observation is that there are two major types of risks:
1) Quitting too soon
2) Pushing too hard early and getting hurt
Like all people beginning an exercise/nutrition program, people over age 50 are very likely to quit well before they see any benefits. According to fitness industry statistics, roughly 90% of the people who sign up as a new member in a gym will quit before 30 days have passed.
The biggest risk is that the person will not be motivated or supported enough to continue through the early difficulties and frustrations that are an inevitable part of doing something new and unfamiliar.
Another significant risk is getting too enthusiastic and getting injured by using too big a weight, or training too hard during the early phases of a program. This is particularly true when someone has been in good condition before and trys to quickly return to their prior performance level.
Usually people over age 50 will have some muscle groups that are strong and others that are very weak. The purpose of beginning training is to help develop the muscular balance needed to do more demanding forms of training.
What supplements are helpful?
If an individuals nutrition program is good, they should need minimal, or no diet supplementation in the form of pills or powders. The priority of any training regimen should be to establish a good nutrition program.
Supplements should not be thought of as a substitute for proper eating.
People doing advanced power training may find that they obtain some benefit from taking additional protein.
What chronic conditions can be helped by building muscle?
Building healthy muscle tissue can counteract the development of what is called sick aging syndrome. This is the development of pre-diabetic conditions, hypertension, poor organ function, and brain degeneration.
Solid muscle tissue generates vital hormones needed for a healthy and viable body. As people age and their muscle mass degenerates, their body naturally produces fewer of these critical hormones.
Being in good physical condition plays a big role in reducing your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases. Being fit is not a guarantee, but it will reduce your risk of contracting undesirable medical conditions as you age.