How Men Can Stay Active in Their 50s and Beyond

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 12, 2022

Exercise may not be the magic youth potion for men, but it’s darn close. Sit less, move more, live longer.  

As you age, blood vessels stiffen, reflexes slow, and the scale moves up a few pounds every year. Most or all of that extra weight is fat. Staying physically active can help you stay leaner and ward off health problems like heart disease, the No. 1 killer of men.

Here are the best ways to stay on the move in your middle years and beyond.

Muscle Matters

As the decades roll by, you lose up to half of your muscle. That’s why you need strength training. You work with weights or resistance to stay strong. You can try:

  • Weightlifting
  • Elastic bands
  • Hand dumbbells and kettle bells
  • Body weight (pushups, pull ups, squats, belly crunches)

Work out all your major muscle groups -- chest, shoulders, arms, abs, hips, and legs -- two or more days a week. Do at least one set of 8-12 reps with a couple of minutes rest in between. 

Tip: Keep the pauses between exercises short so you can get strength training and a heart-pumping cardio workout in one shot.

Get Aerobic

It means “with oxygen.” Working out hard enough to speed up your breathing helps offset the effects of aging. In can whittle fat in the gut, where men often store it. 

If your joints and bones are sturdy, try:

  • Jogging
  • Basketball
  • Tennis

Gentler aerobic options include:

  • Walking
  • Elliptical machine
  • Low-impact or water aerobics
  • Swimming
  • Biking

Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Your pace should be moderate so that you can talk, but not sing. Even a lighter workout helps.

Tip. Build cardio into your day. Take the stairs. Walk your dog. Even yardwork, gardening, and fast-paced housework count.

Stretch It Out

Keep stiffness at bay and stay limber. Greater flexibility means healthier muscles, better balance, and less joint pain. Try:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Arm circles, quad stretches, and other at-home exercises

Stretch every day if you can. But start with at least 2 days a week.

Tip. Always finish off your aerobic or strength workouts with stretches.

Prevent Falls

Accidents are a big worry for older folks. Tai chi, yoga, and strength training are great for balance. But any activity that has you up and moving, like walking, helps keep you on your feet.

You can take care to avoid trips and falls:

  • Don’t wear flip flops or shoes with slick soles or walk in your stocking feet.
  • Clear away clutter like boxes and cords that might trip you.
  • Get regular vision and hearing tests.
  • Keep your house bright enough to see well.
  • Ask your doctor if your medication or health raises your chances for falls.  

It’s Never Too Late to Start

You benefit from exercise even into your 90s. Just check with your doctor first to keep it safe.  

Start slow, and build it up over time. Adopt exercise as a habit. Keep it fun and make it social. Loneliness is bad for your health, and many aging men face that problem.

  • Work out with buddies or join a sports group
  • Sign up for fundraising races or community-center classes
  • Volunteer for events
  • Take regular walks and build strength with body weight workouts  
  • Use technology like apps, podcasts, and online videos

Stay Fit on the Road

Don’t let travel throw off your routine. Many hotels have fitness centers, and some even offer “workouts in a bag” with exercise mats, elastic bands, and other essentials. When you’re taking in the sights, skip the bus and make it a walking tour.

Mind Games

Your brain needs exercise, too. Now’s the time to learn a new language or take up a new hobby. Taking classes gives you a two-for-one. You challenge your brain and make new friends.

Show Sources

SOURCES: “Senior Exercise and Fitness Tips,” “What’s the Best Exercise Plan for Me?” “Aging Well.”

American Council on Exercise: “The Importance of Strength Training As You Age,” “Circuit Training Basics.”

Journal of Health and Sports Science: “Women and Exercise in Aging.”

Cleveland Clinic: “5 Tips for Women to Stay Fit After 50,” “You Can Start Exercising After Age 60 — Here’s How,” “Exercise: Do’s and Don’ts Beyond Age 50.”

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School: “Exercise and aging: Can you walk away from Father Time,” “Exercise for Stronger Knees and Hips.”

Mayo Clinic: “Belly fat in men: Why weight loss matters,” “Fall Prevention: Simple Tips to Prevent Falls,” “Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness.”

Journal of Mid-Life Health: “Exercise Beyond Menopause: Do’s and Don’ts.”

Medscape: “Light Exercise Helps Older Men Live Longer.”

Illinois Department of Public Health: “Facts About Women’s Wellness-Exercise.”

Indiana University Health: “Fit over 50: Exercise tips for women.”

National Council on Aging: “6 Steps to Prevent a Fall.”

OrthInfo: “Staying Active As You Age.”

Queensland Government: “Fitness for Free.” “Sore Muscles from Exercise.”

Keck Medicine of USC: “How to Stay Fit in Your 50s.”

U.S. Travel Insurance Association: “Staying Fit When You Travel.”

AgeUK: “Loneliness among older men with poor health a growing problem.”

Age and Ageing: “Social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for the progression of frailty: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.”

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