10 fitness tips for the over 50s

02 February 2018

Why is exercise so important once you are over 50? Here are 10 reasons why and tips from the experts who witness the injuries and effects of preventable wear and tear.  

Mr Joel Melton is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and sports knee specialist at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital. His advice? 

Tip 1 - Exercise. There is little doubt that people who work hard to build regular low impact exercise into their day-to-day life as they get older will see functional improvements in muscle function and joint stability.

Tip 2 - Preserve good 'knee health' by building strengthening exercises into your busy schedules eg walking, swimming and cycling. This kind of exercise in your 50s will help you manage symptoms of early and moderate knee arthritis.

Mr Lee Van Rensburg, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, also at Spire Cambridge Lea, specialises in shoulders and elbows. He explains why tendons need attention:

“The most common problem I see in patients over 50 years old is that they don't pay enough attention to the tendon and the bone tendon interface. Patients may have been good at sport, but have not trained for a long time. They increase activity too fast and the muscle responds, but it takes several weeks or months for the tendon to follow suit. Applying a sudden fast load across the tendon can see it rupture, classically the Achilles tendon at the heel, the quadriceps at the knee or distal biceps tendon at the elbow.”

Tip 3 - Put a lot of thought into the bone tendon interface. Remember to warm up and cool down, and do not suddenly load the tendon.

Tip 4 - Focus on eccentric muscle exercises, where you apply a load and work the muscle while it is extending, they are better for tendons. This could be, for example; using a leg press machine in the gym to help facilitate quadriceps strengthening. Try to push the plate outwards with a powerful motion (straightening the knees) but focus on a slower return to improve the eccentric loading of the muscle (bending the knees back again).

Tip 5 - Maintain shoulder function by working the muscles that stabilise the head of the humerus, the rotator cuff (four small muscles round the shoulder that keep the ball centred) and the muscles that stabilise the scapula (shoulder blade), not just the muscles at the front of the shoulder (biceps, pectoralis major and deltoid). This could involve inward and outward rotation of the shoulder using a resistance band or a light pulley in the gym alongside some weight bearing exercises on all fours.

Cris Kellett, Physiotherapy Manager at Progress, Cambridge Centre for Health & Performance, at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital comments:

“Don’t be a ‘Mombie’ (mobile zombie). To quote from a speech by Al Pacino in a famous film – “Life is the six inches in front of your face” – why not make that another person’s face, a green space, a blue sky, a mountain, not a Twitter Troll or a Facebook friend?”

Tip 6 - Limit screen time (small as well as large). 

Tip 7 - Work hard to maintain and build your social network - “Not that online social network… I mean your network of real people.”

Tip 8 - Stand don’t sit. Chairs are responsible for some serious health conditions.

Tip 9 - Dance, preferably with a partner but even alone in your home. Why not add some singing too?

Tip 10 - Get an activity tracker and find out how much ‘active’ time versus ‘sedentary’ time you spend during your day. You can use activity trackers to set goals and boost motivation as well as beep at you to get off your bottom.

To speak to any of our experts, please call 01223 266 900.




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