Over 50 Fitness: The Best Fitness Routine for Active Aging

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When you’re over 50 it’s more important than ever to zero in on a fitness routine that is safe, effective, and sustainable. In addition, it also has to be fun AND get you the results you want!


Have you had a hard time finding the right mix, and in a schedule that doesn’t take your whole day?


You’re not alone!


Whoever said that life slows down as you get older wasn’t looking at our schedules! In truth, between work, play, family, and friends, we’re busier than ever.


Who’s got time for long workouts? Not us!


Making sure you stay strong and fit after 50 – and even get fitter – will help you keep doing all the things you love to do.


An effective active aging workout plan is the key to sustainable health and fitness over 50.


I’ve created this article for all of you who are over 50 and want to use fitness to age well and do it in great health.


And thanks to the rowing machine and all the exercises that go well with it, getting and staying in shape can actually be pretty simple.


Read on for my best tips on how to do it.




What are the Benefits of Exercising for Older Adults?


You need exercise more than ever if you’re over 50


Exercise is important for everyone, of course, but without doubt, the older we get the more important it becomes.


Research has repeatedly shown that fitter people live longer, and do better if they are diagnosed with a serious disease.


Need a push to get moving? Here are some of the main benefits of having a good routine of fitness over 50:


Exercise helps prevent injury


This almost goes without saying. The stronger you are in every sense, the less likely you are to get hurt, and the more likely to heal faster from injury.


Exercise can also reduce the risk of becoming frail and risk falling as we get older. While that’s not usually much of a concern for most people at 50, it does become a more focused target for most people as they get into older age.


The stronger you are and stay heading into those years the better, and the less likely this is to be an issue for you.


Exercise increases bone health and density


Speaking of preventing falls, weight training is the ticket to preserving and improving your bone density.


Indoor rowing (our cardio of choice) has been shown to provide some benefit. The real bone builder is strength training. That means picking up things that are heavy enough that you make a bit of a face when you lift them.


Strength training can and should be done at every age, and it needs to be a priority for fitness over 50.


Exercise improves mental health


You know that feeling of satisfaction you get from finishing a workout? That’s the natural mood boost you get from exercise.


Not only does it help you have a better day, exercise can improve mental health by reducing the incidence and severity of clinical depression.


Exercise helps manage stress and improve sleep


Stress and sleep issues are SO common as we age. Thanks to menopause, busy lifestyles, caring for aging parents, grandkids, and sometimes kids still at home, there’s a lot going on.


No wonder we’re stressed out and sleep-challenged!


The good news is that exercise – in the right amounts – releases chemicals that improve mood and help you get quality sleep. Getting into a regular workout routine that challenges you will do wonders for balancing that out.


Exercise improves brain health


The connection between exercise and brain health is one of the most compelling reasons to lace up your sneakers regularly.


Studies have found that exercise can significantly reduce the risk of dementia, and high-intensity exercise, which is easy to do on a rowing machine or SkiErg, is known to be particularly beneficial for brain development at any age!


The best exercises for active aging and over 50 fitness


The Best Training Routine for Over 50 Fitness


What’s a good exercise to reverse aging?


The best exercises for active aging, first and foremost, are the ones that you will DO consistently.


So while there are some that are especially good now, the most important thing is to move in a way you like enough to keep doing it.


Some movement is better than no movement, always. That being said, here are the exercises we love at UCanRow2 for working out over 50, 60, 70, and beyond:


Indoor rowing


The rower is the best bang for your buck for active aging.


Efficient, effective, and safe, it’s total-body, non-impact fitness that is as challenging or as relaxing as you want it to be.


On most machines you control the intensity with how hard you push and pull. So you can do a lung-busting HIIT workout or an easy, meditative row on the same piece of equipment.


You work 86 percent of your muscles on every single stroke, too, so you can get a great workout in as little as 15 minutes.


Spend just a little bit of time learning to use the rowing machine effectively and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come.


Strength training


Weight training is the perfect complement to rowing.


Strength exercises do more than improve our muscle tone and flexibility. They also strengthen our heart, which can protect us from cardiovascular disease.


As we age, strength training also helps preserve bone density and muscle mass, two things we naturally lose otherwise.


This is especially important for women, who lose it faster that men thanks to the hormonal changes that come with menopause.


You don’t have to pick up a barbell to get stronger after 50, although you absolutely can!


There are plenty of strength-building exercises you can do with just your bodyweight. And dumbbells make a great next step. You don’t even need a gym membership! If you have basic equipment at home you can do just fine.


Want the best-ever over 50 fitness plan? Put rowing and strength training together, as we do in our RowStrong program!



One of the best things you can do for your health is simply to move more.


Barely 30 percent of people in the United States get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise and 2 strength sessions each week.


Walking is highly underrated as a way to build overall fitness and general health. For me, it was key to helping me lose weight in menopause and keep it off.


I’m not talking about walking as a workout. I’m talking about a stroll around your neighborhood, walking while chatting with a friend or listening to an audiobook.


In a perfect world, you would get 7,500 steps or more per day, but any boost you can get here is a great start.


Balance training

Research has shown that our balance starts to decline at 50. With that comes an increased risk of falling which, once we’re older, can have serious consequences.


The inner ear and vestibular system have a lot to do with how well you can hold your body in space. So do your flexibility and strength, especially in your feet, legs, glutes, abs and torso.


That’s great news because you can make all those body parts stronger and more flexible.


Pro tip: The rowing machine can also help with flexibility. It’s a favorite of physical therapists for recovery from hip and knee surgery, for example.


Flexibility and mobility training

This could be yoga, pilates, foam rolling, specific stretching exercises, or something else.


Not a fan of stretching? Me neither, never have been. And let me tell you, I’m paying for it now in knee pain, mobility limitations, all the things.


Despite my attempts to fight the clock, it’s become clear to me that mobility work after 50 is a must-do. Indeed, 10 minutes a day is enough. But you have to do them.


According to the U.S. National Institute on Aging, older adults who lose significant mobility:

  • have a reduced quality of life
  • have higher rates of disease
  • and ultimately are less likely to be able to “age in place” (remain living at home)


So do your mobility work! It’ll help your posture, too.


Want some good stretches to do after you row? Check out these from Master Rowing Instructor and yoga master Angela Hart!


Are Rowing Machines Good For Older Adults?


Adding rowing to your training routine is one of the BEST workouts for over 50 fitness


With its low-impact, total-body fitness, rowing is one of the BEST choices for fitness for active aging. And it’s ideal for anyone who’s looking to keep their joints healthy as they age.


It also:


  • Builds cardiovascular endurance


  • Improves strength


  • Builds bone density


  • Improves heart and lung health



All in one time-efficient, endlessly versatile package.


At UCanRow2 we like to say that rowing meets you where you are and takes you as far as you want to go.


One of the rowing machine’s best features is its ability to adapt to your current fitness and challenge you appropriately from there.


So whether you’re just getting started with fitness or indoor rowing, or you’re looking to extend your active lifestyle for years to come, rowing is there for you.


Try an Active Aging Rower Workout


For our money, the best workout programs for over 50 fitness combine rowing (and/or the SkiErg), strength training, and balance.


Workouts and classes like those are the backbone of what we do at UCanRow2.


Have I piqued your interest yet? I hope so!


Here’s a favorite of our Bodyshop workout crew (aged 57-89):


3-5 Rounds


4 minutes or 40 calories cardio (pick one)


10 dumbbell deadlifts


10 dumbbell rows


10 reverse lunges


10 push-ups


10 bird dogs


The best fitness routine for over 50 fitness

What should my over 50 fitness routine look like?


Mix endurance, high-intensity, muscle strength, balance, and flexibility training


A fitness routine for active aging needs to include lots of elements.


Fortunately, when you can combine total-body tools like the rower and strength training in one session, getting fit can be quick!


Try This: Fitness Over 50 Weekly Workout Template


Monday: Lower-intensity endurance row


Tuesday: Strength train, with an optional 10-minute high-intensity burner at the end


Wednesday: Mid-intensity interval row


Thursday: Strength train


Friday: High-intensity rowing + strength


Saturday: Go for a stroll or do something light, like an easy bike ride or yoga


Sunday: Rest or do some yoga


Of course, you can fit this into whichever days in the week work best for you.


If you don’t want to do 5 workouts per week, spread it out. Just follow the sequence and aim to get in some movement on the off days.


Want to see rowing and strength exercises in a done-for-you total-body workout training plan? Take a look at our RowStrong rowing + strength program!


If you’re brand new to rowing, we recommend starting with our RowNow program for beginners.


How Often Should Older Adults Exercise?


For active aging, it’s just as important to keep moving as it is when we’re younger.


Firstly, just like their younger counterparts older adults should aim to get AT LEAST 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.  or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Rowing works well for both of these!


Secondly, add two strength-focused sessions per week and you’ll be well on your way to lifelong fitness.



Getting Fit over 50: Tips for Success


Make managing stress a priority


The body becomes more sensitive to stress as we age. If you’re in menopause, this is especially true.


We all feel stressed at times, that’s normal. But chronic stress can have serious consequences. Weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, digestive problems, and sleep issues, to name a few.


If you’re working on weight loss, stress can bring that to a screaming halt, too.


The good news is that exercise, in the right amounts and intensities, can help with that.


Get good sleep (even if you can’t get enough)


Any time I’ve been working on weight loss I’ve found that if I’m not sleeping well, the scale doesn’t budge. And forget about lifting heavy in the gym.


Sadly, sleep is an issue for almost everyone at some point once they pass 50. Suddenly that active aging doesn’t feel so “active” anymore.


Getting 8 hours of solid shuteye may not be in the cards every night at this stage. But good sleep habits and doing what you can to manage stress will go a long way toward helping you get that rest.


You’re never too old to get fit


You’re never too old to get fit – or fitter! And the benefits are only GREATER from fitness over 50.


We believe that the later years are a GREAT time to level up what you’re doing.


So take up that new fitness activity you’ve always wanted to try – rowing perhaps?


Join a class, be it in the gym or online. Hire a personal trainer (Be sure to ask if they’re certified!). Another option is to finally buy the home equipment you’ve always wanted.


Go gently into old age? We don’t think so!




The best routine for people fitness over 50 -or at any age, really – is one that is sustainable.


That means it’s one that fits your schedule and budget, gives you the results you’re looking for, and you enjoy it enough that you will keep doing it.


For healthy and active aging make sure it includes a mix of cardio, strength, balance, stability, and mobility.


The best bang for your buck will come from total-body cardio like the rowing machine and SkiErg.


For even better results, pair them with compound strength moves that challenge multiple muscle groups in the same exercise. Even better, add in a balance challenge mixed in!


Want workouts like these at your fingertips? Row along with us at UCanRow2 On Demand.


Or grab our free download, 5 Rowing Workouts to Boost Your Fitness.


Are you an active ager, maybe a 50-plus rower? I’d love to hear your fitness story in the comments!


Recommended Reading



Beginner Rowing Machine Tips and Tricks


Rowing For Weight Loss


HIIT Rowing Workouts to Build Your Best Body


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