Engage in weight training to rebuild lost muscle mass.
To commemorate the вЂњSpirit of '76,вЂќ the 62-year-old Jack LaLanne swam a mile - handcuffed and shackled - towing 76 people on 13 boats. At age 70, LaLanne swam a mile and a half, towing 70 people on 70 boats.
While LaLanne might be exceptional, there's no reason you can't get into the best shape of your life after 55. If you stick to a regular regimen of strength training, cardiovascular activity and flexibility exercises, you too can take a sip from the fountain of youth.
Get Your Time In
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men age 55 and over can condition their cardiorespiratory system and musculature by doing at least 150 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular activity and two days of resistance training for major muscle groups per week. If you boost the intensity of the aerobic exercise, you can cut the recommended amount of aerobic exercise in half to 75 minutes. If you boost moderate aerobic exercise to five hours a week, you'll reap more health benefits. In addition, you can segment aerobic exercise into 10-minute chunks to suit your schedule and still meet minimum exercise standards.
Pump it Up
You can perform a 30- to 45-minute weight lifting regimen twice a week to strengthen your major muscle groups. If you can't get to the gym, you can replace free weights or machines with elastic bands. According to вЂњStrength Training Past 50вЂќ by Wayne Westcott and Thomas Baechle, a free weight workout can consist of a squat, lunge, step-up, chest fly, bench press, single-arm row, lat pull-down, lateral raise, seated press, incline curl, triceps extension, oblique crunch, bodyweight trunk extension and shrug. Use dumbbells for most exercises requiring weights, except for the squat, bench press and shrug - all done with a barbell. Perform eight to 12 reps for one or two sets for each exercise. Once you can do 12 reps with ease, increase the load by 5 percent.
Staying Flexible and Spry
Flexibility exercises to maintain or expand the range of movement of your joints can help to improve posture and prevent injury. Vojtek Chodzko-Zajko's book вЂњACSM's Exercise for Older AdultsвЂќ recommends flexibility training twice a week consisting of 10 minutes of static stretches held for 15 to 60 seconds. The stretching regimen should cover your legs, hips, pelvis, upper and lower spine, shoulders and neck. For example, begin a stretch for your quads by standing in front of a chair back with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Loop one end of a rope or towel around your right ankle. Place your left hand on the chair back for support. Hold the other end of the rope with your right hand behind your head. Slowly bend your right knee, drawing your right foot toward your buttocks by pulling on the rope.
Protect Your Joints
When you age, the loss of cartilage can make high-impact cardio activities, such as running, particularly hard on your joints. In addition, if you're overweight, new to physical training or suffer from arthritis or osteoporosis, you can spare your joints with a variety of low-impact cardio exercises, such as brisk or Nordic walking, aqua aerobics, swimming, cycling, dancing or even bowling. If you find indoor gyms to be too crowded or hectic, join a senior fitness program, which typically combines aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility exercises, at a senior center or the local YMCA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.