As we age, the human body becomes more prone to injury and disease – vision gets worse, muscle growth slows, and energy levels fall.
Because of this, turning 50 is a big deal. It might even be scary, if you look at that number as a halfway point in your life.
But there is no reason to look at it like that – age is, after all, just a number. And while that might seem like a simple adage, it has a level of truth to it, the evidence of which we have all seen.
Part of what goes into this is mentality and attitude, but the other part is physical health – if you eat healthy, if you exercise safely and regularly, and if you maintain a healthy lifestyle, you will likely look and feel younger. (You’ll also live longer, too).
And even if you have not lived a life of athleticism or healthy eating, there is no reason to look at that kind of life as out-of-reach.
It is never too late to start being healthy – read on for some crucial tips.
Age: The Number vs. Reality
One of the most important things to keep in mind if you’re trying to change your lifestyle is mentality and attitude.
An integral part of this is the understanding of age – how it really is just a number. There is your chronological age, which refers simply to the number of years and months you have been alive. If you were born in 1969, your chronological age would be 50.
But there is also something called your psychological age. This refers to how old you may seem, taking into account certain factors like diet, sleeping habits, exercise, and mental state.
So, if you were born in 1969, you might be 50 years old, but if you live a healthy life and live with a positive outlook on life, your psychological age might be closer to the mid-thirties.
Just to provide some context here, my Great Uncle is a 95-year-old World War II veteran. And looks, acts, and thinks like he is in his sixties.
When people find out that he served in the Second World War, he is often met with sheer disbelief. He is not confined to a wheelchair, he is not deaf or blind or decrepit – his chronological age is 95, but his psychological age is much lower.
We often see this in reverse – sixty or seventy-year-olds who look old and decrepit, perhaps because their lifestyle was unhealthy – maybe they smoked or never exercised.
The point is this: regardless of how you have lived in the past, if you can keep your attitude positive, you can mold a healthy lifestyle for yourself, which means you’ll be happier and live longer.
This ties in with the whole attitude-adjustment process I mentioned earlier. If you are trying to start exercising, whether or not it is your very first time, you have to truly want to be doing this.
You have to have an attitude that is full of positivity. You have to have the motivation to wake up and workout.
If you have the wrong mentality, you will make it very difficult for yourself to succeed here.
A big part of finding this motivation is understanding why you want to start working out. It could be a multitude of things – doc’s orders, or maybe you just want to feel better and stronger, or maybe you want to work to fight off disease.
Once you can articulate to yourself why you’re doing this, you’ll be able to begin. And while this step seems very simplistic, it is arguably the most important thing to keep in mind.
As my dad has always said, the two most important words are ‘I believe.’
Don’t Go Nuts …At First
Once you find that motivation, you might be tempted to slap on a weight belt and start deadlifting like you did in college.
And while I love that mentality, it is important to start slowly. Because of your age, your body won’t recover as quickly from workouts.
With that, your odds of injury are much higher than they were ten or twenty years ago. Plus, if you’ve never worked out, or haven’t worked out in a while, your muscles will not be used to the sensation. So, it is vital to start slow.
Don’t be frustrated if you’re taking a while to get stronger – go slow, be patient, the strength will come. Start easy with light weights at a low intensity. Focus on form.
And again, be patient. With this, you might consider working with a trainer. This will help you reduce your odds of an injury while increasing your knowledge and motivation.
You won’t need a trainer forever, but having one can often be hugely helpful.
Keep it Varied
Whether or not you’re new to the realm of exercise, try not to get too repetitive. Mix in different forms of cardio with an ever-changing variety of weight-lifting routines.
And you might also consider incorporating around ten or twenty minutes per day of some form of yoga or stretching. This is imperative in reducing your odds of injury.
Plus, yoga is a great way to improve mentality and attitude and increase overall health. You don’t need a studio. You just need a mat and Youtube.
If you’re able to stick to a schedule that involves a cardio cross-training mixed with yoga and weights, you’ll feel fantastic, plus you will be healthier as well as stronger.
Consistency is Key
Whatever you choose to do, know that the most important part of it is consistency. If you work out on a regular basis, whatever that basis may be, you will simply get stronger and healthier with each passing week.
Your motivation will also continue to grow, to the point where, if you miss a workout, it will drive you crazy. You’ll be in a good place. But if you train sporadically, your motivation is like to vary and decrease over time.
If you’re looking to implement a long-term lifestyle shift, you must be consistent. Even if that means two hours a week. Like I said earlier, start slow and start small. But just starting at all means you’re doing something right.
Getting older is scary. But it doesn’t have to be. You can take full control of your own life, and increase the quality and length of it. See more tips on how to live longer here.
And while this might not be able to account for everything – some diseases come down simply to genetics – getting in shape and staying in shape is the strongest defense that you have against injury, disease, and ultimately, death.
you’ve got this.
“I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.”