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Staying fitter, longer

Exercise programme advice for a 45 plus audience

As a man in my 50s who’s taken part in a lot of active sport since I was a lot younger, my body’s biomechanics have changed significantly over recent years.

From my own perspective, I know that since having two arthroscopies on my left knee to remove torn cartilage, running is not a beneficial training option for me and cycling and swimming are now my exercises of choice for both CV and muscle strength and endurance training.

Three key pieces of advice I’d offer to anyone looking at kicking off an exercise programme in their late 40s or 50s are as follows:

Get a customised programme. Whether at the gym or privately, make the investment to consult a qualified Personal Trainer to discuss your goals and request a programme tailored to your training and medical history and your personal preferences. My experience with some (less qualified) gym instructors is that their exercise programmes risk being a ‘one size fits all’ solution and therefore not as effective, the worst-case scenario being that they may even have a negative effect

Don’t choose the heaviest weights on the rack to build strength. If you’re building weight training into your programme, lifting lighter weights trains the endurance capabilities of the muscle fibres, therefore improving your ability to perform daily activities as well as improving sports performance (if the latter is also one of your goals). Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that doing 20–25 reps with lighter weights was just as efficient for building strength as doing 8–12 reps with heavier weights

Ask the Personal Trainer to create a stretching routine for you. As we get older, improving muscle tone and strength is important, but maintaining flexibility in muscles and range of movement through joints is equally important. You should also think of the stretching routine as a ‘standalone’ element of your programme, ie not just something you do prior to a workout – making time for a 10 minute stretching session each day for key muscle groups can make a huge difference

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