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Best exercises for over 50s


Whether you're a couch potato who's looking to be more active, or already fit and healthy but want to look at exercises that specifically target health concerns, here are the best workout routines as recommended by gransnetters.  

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What are the best exercises for over 50s to lose weight?

Firstly, it may be a little harder, but it absolutely is possible to shift weight if you're over 50. Yes, our metabolisms are slowing down, and the menopause does tend to lead to weight gain, particularly round the middle, but gransnetters are full of success stories. Most agree that the solution is simple: 'Eat less and move more.' But are some exercises better than others? 

Most would agree that a comprehensive exercise plan will have the best results. That is one that includes cardio (running/brisk walking etc) as well as resistance training (weights, resistance bands). And remember that, as in the case of all new exercise routines, you must check with your GP first, especially if you have any medical issues.


Many gransnetters swear by the 10,000 steps club. Obviously an idle amble isn't going to do as much good as a brisk walk, so to really reap the benefits you should aim to get the blood pumping and a light sweat on.

"I walk for half an hour, four to five days a week but also walk to the local shop or to my daughter's and the pool a few times a week too."


Running provides a wide range of physical and mental health benefits, from decreasing the risk of heart disease to lowering stress levels.

"I took up running when I was 59 years and did two half marathons. I now go for short runs as often as I can manage it."



Pilates is an excellent core body workout and has added benefits in helping back pain and improving posture.

"I honestly thought I was quite fit as I am on the go most of the time, work two days a week and walk most places but by heck, I didn't realise how weak my core muscles are. I would recommend classes to anyone who has the time to go."

Tai Chi

A wonderfully relaxing exercise with numerous health benefits both physically and mentally.

"Having experienced Tai Chi I can really see how beneficial it could be, as both gentle and effective exercise and an excellent way of learning to relax. Learning the sequences is very good exercise for the brain as well so I would recommend it, but try to find a class that is more suitable for beginners."


Excellent for flexibility and balance, yoga is a favourite with gransnetters, for good reason.

"I definitely feel fairly flexible and am pretty sure that yoga is keeping me healthy in mind and body."

Zumba or dance-based exercise classes

Perfect for those who get bored easily and find listening to music helps with motivation, ZumbaGold classes are aimed at people who are 50 plus, and offer more low impact exercises with the same benefits as the original version.

"I have arthritis in my spine and hips and am a size 16. I was the oldest in the Zumba class, so don't be put off. This one is really good fun and I have released my inner Shakira!"


Swimming is one of those few exercises that gives a full body workout, and helps to strengthen most of your muscles whilst also improving your cardiovascular system.

"Now that I'm retired I can find time twice a week to swim a mile (64 lengths, 45 mins). As a result I am feeling stronger and fitter than I have been in many years."


Balance exercises

Feel more steady on your feet with simple and easy balance exercises to try at home using a chair or the kitchen work surface. Fitness expert Julie Robinson from Move It Or Lose It demonstrates a handful of these exercises to help you improve your balance in just five minutes.



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How to motivate yourself to exercise

Feeling motivated to exercise regularly can be tricky, but here are a few tips to help you get started.


1. Find an exercise you actually enjoy doing

If you love being outside instead of in a gym, then a brisk stroll or run around your local park or neighbourhood is the thing for you.

  • If you love music and dancing, Zumba is a definite must.
  • If you like being part of a team, then you could consider joining a running club.
  • If you're competitive by nature, perhaps tennis or a similar sport would be the right thing for you.


2. Find a partner in crime

Never underestimate the power of peer pressure. Rope in a mate, a neighbour, your daughter, or better yet, a dog! Anyone you can convince who would benefit from a bit of exercise. Be each other's support and motivator. But do choose your exercise partner well, unlike this gransnetter.

"I have a walking companion who tops or belittles everything I say and buys 'only the best'. With that and farting as she walks, a fun Sunday morning is had!"

3. Set realistic goals

If you want to run a marathon, that's great, but if you currently can't walk round the block without collapsing, then it's probably not achievable in the short term. The best motivator is to achieve smaller goals step by step and then move on to the next stage.

Try Couch to 5K if you're interested in running, or pick a yoga move that you'd like to master and use YouTube videos to work on it a few times a week. Once you've achieved those goals, move on to the next. This way you'll be climbing a mountain in bitesize stages instead of sprinting to the top but running out of air halfway up. 


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4. Make it a habit

The secret to creating a new habit is making the action as easy as possible. So, if you're planning on exercising first thing, lay out your workout gear and trainers the night before. Promise yourself you'll stick to the routine for just two weeks. After that time, you're very likely to have slipped into a routine and hey presto, the exercise habit is formed.

5. Treat yourself

Clearly a piece of cake or glass of wine after each workout will probably negate all your efforts, so try rewarding yourself when you reach your goals with a new pair of trainers, a manicure or an early night with a film.


How to incorporate exercise into your everyday routine


Regular gardening not only has the benefit of getting you into the fresh air and upping your Vitamin D, but it also means your outdoor space will be weed-free and beautiful year round. Just be cautious not to overdo the bending and damage your back.

"I get into the garden as much as possible - also helps my light levels."


Arguably the very best kind of exercise for mind, body and spirit, looking after the grandkids is beneficial for all involved. Exhausting, yes. Rewarding, most definitely! Don't rely on screens to keep them occupied and take a look at these wonderful ideas to keep kids entertained. You're sure to end the day happy, tired and definitely well-exercised. 

Walking the dog

If you don't do it for yourself, do it for the wellbeing of your dog. Take a slightly longer walk, try a different route, throw a ball in the park. Every extra step makes a difference.

"I have dogs, so an hour for them is minimum really. The dogs are a boon, because I have to go out whatever the weather."

There are plenty mores tips, advice and support on exercise, diet and fitness on our forums, so come and share your successes or challenges.

Disclaimer: The information on our diet and fitness pages is only intended as an informal guide and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. Gransnet would urge you to consult your GP before you begin any diet if you're concerned about your weight, have existing health conditions and/or are taking medication.


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