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Why aerobic exercise is important over 50 years old

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Make aerobic exercise part of your life for improved physical and mental health as you age

Getting older may cause you to believe you need to “slow down” by decreasing your physical activity to avoid pain or injury. But keeping active as you age is very important to safeguard your well-being. 

Aerobic exercise, also known as endurance training or cardio exercise, can help protect your physical and mental health, especially from risks that grow as you approach and pass age 50.

Why aerobic exercise is important over 50

Over 70% of Americans fail to get the recommended amount of exercise. Without a wellness plan that includes exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep, you become vulnerable to a host of issues, including:

  • Heart disease: Most women who experience a heart attack do so after age 50, while the risk for men increases at 45. 
  • Type 2 diabetes: Eleven million people are diagnosed between the ages of 45–64. That number nearly doubles for those 65 and older.
  • Colon cancer: It can occur at any age, but this cancer is more common after the age of 50, especially for those with diabetes.
  • Breast cancer:One in 43 women ages 50 to 60 are at risk for breast cancer.

How aerobic exercise decreases health risks

Aerobic exercise can help you regulate hormones for better breast health. It can burn fat and regulate blood sugar for a healthier weight, which reduces your risk of both diabetes and cancer. It can also help your heart perform better by increasing your oxygen and blood flow and lowering your blood pressure. 

Through all these improvements, you may not only turn around existing physical health conditions and strengthen your immune system, but you may also boost your self-esteem, lower stress, and ease the symptoms of depression for enhanced mental health.

Aerobic exercise: How often should you work out after 50

If you’re ready to make aerobic exercise part of your wellness plan, it’s important to know how often you should work out if you’re age 50 or older. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends one of the following schedules:

  • A minimum of 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes on five days, performing moderate aerobic activities (e.g., brisk walking) 
  • A minimum of 75 minutes a week, or 25 minutes on three days, performing vigorous activities (e.g., jogging or swimming)

You may also choose to do a combination of these each week.

What are the best aerobic exercises for seniors?

Before starting any exercise program, talk with your doctor to discuss the best aerobic activities for you. 

If you’re just getting started with aerobic exercise, begin slowly and increase your intensity as you grow stronger to help ensure no injuries.

If you’re experiencing issues with your balance, you may want to consider delaying aerobic exercise to first focus on strength training, which can build muscle and improve your stability. 

The best aerobic exercises will always be based on your current fitness level and physical health. 

Types of senior aerobic activities

Is there a sport, like tennis or basketball, you love or have always wanted to try? The best senior aerobic activities combine fitness with something you enjoy. 

Other health tips suggest group exercise classes, such as water aerobics or yoga, which can ease social isolation and further strengthen your well-being without stressing your joints.

Senior cardio workouts can also be done at home with little or no equipment. Take a walk, jog, or ride a bike through your neighborhood. You may also stay inside, turn on music, and dance, or simply march in place. 

When time is a barrier to aerobic activities, keep in mind house cleaning or yard work, such as raking, can also provide cardio benefits. Whatever gets your heart pumping qualifies as a type of senior aerobic activity.

Photo credit: iStock

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