Maintaining Fitness After 50

As a woman over the age of 50, I know first-hand how challenging it can be to maintain fitness. For example, my body doesn’t require the same number of calories as it did when I was younger, but I still need to get enough nutrients. There’s no getting around it, as we age, our bodies, minds, and lives change, and so does what we need to maintain fitness.

Healthy eating, regular exercise, and physical activity are the foundation for fitness after 50. Aging increases the risk of developing chronic diseases but physical activity can delay or prevent many of them, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some cancers. Being physically active can also improve mental health, help you sleep better, feel better, and maintain the ability to live independently.

When I was younger, my goals for working out were primarily to maintain weight. Now weight maintenance is a secondary goal, and functional fitness is primary. Functional fitness is training your body to handle real-life situations. For me, functional fitness means maintaining my balance and not hitting the ground when I trip on an uneven sidewalk. As a frequent flyer, it also means lifting my suitcase into the overhead bin or pulling it off the baggage carousel.

Exercise and physical activity fall into four basic categories—endurance, strength, balance, and