When it comes to toning and fitness, it truly is never too late. Even if you've never exercised before, in a relatively short time of exercising regularly and properly, you'll begin to feel and see the benefits. The two main reasons people give up on exercise at any age is doing too much too soon, causing major discomfort or even injury, or expecting results too quickly and quitting before you get there. If you've gone most of your life without exercise, you will be especially prone to injury from overdoing it, and it may take a little longer to see results.
Begin a regular program of cardio exercise if you aren't doing that already. The general recommendation for good health and weight maintenance is 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as a brisk walk, per week. However, MayoClinic.com notes that adults over 50 may have to cut as much as 200 calories per day from their diets in order not to gain weight. Longer cardio workouts burn more calories and can mean less calorie cutting. It's also a great way to tone legs.
Commit to six weeks of resistance training -- toning muscles by working against a weight -- at least twice per week. Generally, it takes a minimum of four to six weeks to stop feeling sore and tired and start feeling better and stronger. If you lack the self-discipline, consider hiring a trainer, signing up for a class or scheduling workouts with a friend. Once you see results, you're more likely to stick with it.
Choose basic exercises that will be easy to remember if you haven't exercised before. If you forget the correct form or movements, the exercise will be less effective, and you could injure yourself . If you are working out in a gym, consider starting on machines. If you are starting on your own at home, examples of basic exercises would be biceps curls done with weights or soup cans, triceps dips on a bench or chair and ab crunches, starting with your arms at your sides. All movements should be slow and controlled.
Work all the major muscle groups in each session or divide your sessions into upper and lower body, making sure to never work the same muscles two days in a row. This means working your chest muscles, the deltoids at both the fronts and backs of your shoulders, the lats in your upper back, the biceps and triceps in your upper arms, the quads and hamstrings in your thighs and your abdominals.
Select a weight or resistance with which you can do eight repetitions but 10 or 12 are difficult. Work each muscle group to fatigue. If time is a factor that might keep you from exercising regularly, then do just one set of each exercise. If you have the time, rest for one to two minutes, then try another set. When 12 reps become too easy, increase the weight by 5 percent.
Include flexibility and range of motion exercises. Working your muscles, especially after 50, can leave you feeling stiff. Flexibility and range of motion exercises will make everyday activities easier and enhance the benefits you gain from toning. Stretch the muscles worked three to four times, holding each stretch for four long breaths, and also move your joints through their full range, for example, slowly circling your extended arm forward three to four times and then back three to four times, keeping it close to your body.
- Focus on good health. Both men and women tend to gain weight around the middle as they age, so you may never get back into your old size clothes.
- Skin also loses some elasticity with age, so toning my not get rid of all the "wiggles," especially if you lose a lot of weight.
- Resistance bands are an easy and inexpensive way to start exercising at home.