Fitness After 50

Fitness After 50Glenda Baker is group exercise instructor, pilates reformer trainer, certified Tai Chi Fit instructor and…a grandmother of four. She’s not your typical fitness instructor, but she’s a shining example of why it’s important to stay fit throughout life, especially as we grow older.

“You know, having grandchildren was a life-changing event for me,” Baker says. “I want to be a great grandma and in order to keep up with them, I have to be in shape.”

For those who have exercised all their lives, continuing the regimen is generally not too difficult. For those who haven’t exercised in a while, it can take a commitment.

“It’s all about discipline,” Baker says. “The hardest thing about the gym – or exercise, in general – is getting through the door. It’s so hard anymore for that 50-plus age group to find time. We’re taking care of our kids and grandkids and taking care of our parents at the same time. We are also working full time. Even retired people are busier now.”

So, how does a person get started?

“Part of it is finding something you enjoy doing,” she says. “When it’s something you enjoy doing, it becomes something you enjoy. I always recommend having a workout ‘buddy.’ This person can help motivate you and you can help motivate them.”

Optimally, people should work out at least 10-15 minutes a day, according to Baker. This doesn’t mean it needs to be a gym workout. A few examples she shares:

  • A brisk walk on your break.
  • Playing outside with the kids.
  • Taking a fitness class with a friend or group of friends.
  • Using a resistance band to work out at your desk while working.

Baker does say, however, that the workout should be moderate, but intense enough to get your heart pumping. “If you can carry on a conversation while you’re walking, you’re not walking fast enough.”

Before any of this, though, Baker recommends setting goals and seeing your doctor before starting an exercise program if you haven’t exercised in a while.

“Write your goals down in ink – not pencil,” she says. “Then stick to it. So many people do it for weight loss and then get disappointed when it doesn’t happen right away. At our age, keeping your core strong is really what matters – for balance and for strength. Also, be aware of where you are health-wise when you start – check with your doctor if you haven’t exercised recently to make sure there aren’t any issues.”

Baker says she looks at her fitness really as her health insurance. “This is my preventive measure,” she says. “This not only keeps me fit, it helps prevent other problems commonly associated with aging.

 “We work hard all of our lives,” Baker contemplates. “What’s the point if we’re stuck in a chair when we’re retired? I choose to look ahead. I want to age gracefully and I want to enjoy spending time with my family as I grow older.”