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Nine health and fitness tips for over 50s


Over-indulged a bit recently? Trousers feeling a bit tight? Us too. Our recent survey revealed that almost a fifth of gransnetters embark on new exercise routines in the New Year. So if you're looking to make a change fear not, personal trainer Nick Finney has shared his top tips for getting fit and staying healthy in later life. According to Nick, the perils of eating after 8pm are a myth (hurrah), carbohydrates aren't the enemy and with a few of his tweaks, exercise can be fun AND effective. So ditch those fad diet books that are cluttering up your bookshelf, dust off your trainers and let's get fit.

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1. Exercise before eating

One of the most effective ways to burn calories is to carry out 'fasted cardio'. This practice involves cardio of any sort, at any speed - whatever your level - first thing in the morning, before you've eaten. It requires the body to provide all the energy supply as no food is available at all!

2. Don't be scared of weights

Weight training is very important to strengthen bones as we get older - it's proven to stave off, or even curb, osteoporosis. Don't be afraid to try your hand at weights, just start slow and light and work your way up. And don't worry about weights making you bulky, lifting heavier weight burns more calories than lighter ones, so it tends to slim you down.

3. Eat carbs for dinner

The notion that we ought not to eat after 8pm or should avoid carbohydrates after 4pm has been proven incorrect in recent times. We know now that actually we are very sensitive to carbohydrates in the morning; they have a higher propensity to be stored as fat then as opposed to the evening. For example instead one may choose to have a protein and fats breakfast and enjoy carbohydrates with dinner.

Carbohydrates at dinner also encourage serotonin production in the brain and help a better nights sleep. They also keep us more satisfied during the evening period where many of us dangerously begin looking in cupboards!

4. Sugary side-effects

Fat does not make you fat! Instead we need to be far more concerned with sugar. Sugar causes an insulin spike, and this immediately promotes fat storage. Check the back of what you're eating and remember 5g of sugar is a teaspoon. If you're eating a salad with 15g of sugar in it something is going wrong! Here's a few tips on how to easily cut sugar out of your diet.

5. Protein, protein, protein

Make ALL your meals protein based. It is extremely difficult to put on weight if this is the crux of your plan. Don't fret if you think you use too much of one particular protein source - if you love lamb have it, if you prefer chicken that's fine...scrambled eggs - no problem.

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6. Ditch the scales

Overall weight/the scales should not be your ultimate arbiter. Sure, you can keep an eye on things, but what if you put on 2kg of muscle and lose 2kg of fat? Scales show no difference, but your changes have been fantastic. Remember 2kg of muscle over the whole body is hardly anything, however that muscle requires calories to exist even when you're doing nothing. You're on your way to changing your metabolism and becoming a fat burning furnace! Forget the scales and use your clothes as your guide. Those favourite jeans don't lie!

7. Mix it up

Just a few tweaks to your exercise choices can make all the difference. Exercises that utilise more muscles burn more calories, and tend to also hit the larger muscles like legs and back. Hiring a trainer to run you through these more complex choices for just a couple of sessions can put you on a road to much greater progress and be worth the money in the long run...(maybe have one less bottle of wine a week to make up for it?!)

8. Strength in numbers

Try to rope a friend into going with you. Often you can both get bitten by the bug and motivate each other when you see results. You'll both have good days and bad days but you're more likely to be consistent, and have fun with a friend there. Look at class timetables and mix in some free classes with your weights for variety like spinning, boxing, Zumba or anything else that takes your fancy.

9. Have fun!

My last tip is try to enjoy it! If you really don't feel like going one night then don't. If you're unwell, don't go! Don't listen if people say you have to go in the morning or that the evening is best... Go whenever suits you. The gym should fit into your life not the other way around. Nothing worth doing is easy but consistency breeds results and you'll be amazed how great you feel after a month, and the compliments on your figure never hurt either! 

Want more fitness inspiration? Browse our health content here too and why not share your health and fitness tips with our community on the forums too?   

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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