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4 Types of Exercises You Need After 55

There’ve been aerobic steps, cardio dance, running, walking, biking and everything in between when it comes to fitness routines. And through the years you have probably tried them all, but none of them felt “right” to you.

Most of the time when new clients reach out to me to get back into a fitness routine, they’ve been pretty consistent with walking, but they’ve fallen off the wagon when it comes to other forms of healthy movement.

It’s time to build a routine that keeps your body strong, builds your bone density, protects your joints, and gives you the vitality you deserve!

To do that, there are 4 types of exercises you need for your body, especially after 55: strength training, cardio, mobility and stretching, and balance exercises. Let’s dive into how we should approach each of these types of exercise and why they are so important for our body especially after 55. 

Strength Training

As early as our 30s, our body can start to lose muscle mass if we are not actively doing strength and resistance training to build our muscles. Strength training exercises can help to build muscle mass without making us bulky, build our bone density to prevent fractures, and protect our joints from those nagging aches and pains.

It’s especially important to choose exercises for our hips and our shoulders. Not only will this help our posture and keep us moving with ease, but it will also help us to continue to enjoy all of our favorite activities.

Strength training also helps to burn fat and keeps our metabolism working much longer and harder than cardio exercise. This is good news if you have found yourself with some extra pounds around the middle.

Strength training exercises should be done in sets of 8-15 repetitions with 2-4 sets of each exercise 2-4 times a week. Start slow and listen to your body. It can be tempting if you’ve been out of a routine to try to push yourself to make up for lost progress, but it’s better to start slow and steady and progress from there.

You want to pick a weight for your exercise that is going to give you a challenge by the last rep of your exercise. Our bodies are designed to and can quickly adapt, so you will quickly notice that you will need to move on from the 2 pound set of hand weights you have hiding under your bed.

We need to adjust the resistance, the intensity, or the demand on our body to continue to build the muscle we need to keep our bodies strong. Check out this quick video for a few full body exercises to get you started. 

Cardiovascular Exercise

The next type of exercise our bodies need is cardiovascular exercise. This is the most common type of exercise people think of when they want to get back into shape. It’s pretty easy to hop on the elliptical, go for a walk, jog, or run, or swim, bike, or dance. The problem occurs when you only focus on cardio.

Our bodies need a more well-rounded approach! Stick to shorter cardio bursts of 20-40 minutes instead of hours and pick any activity that you enjoy! The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week. 

Another way to get more out of your cardio sessions is to add some intervals. If you are walking, you can vary up your routine, add some hills, change your pace, or even add in some squats at a bench, step ups at the curb, or heel raises at the light pole.

Warm up your body at a steady pace for at least 5 minutes then add an interval of 20-60 seconds and then return to your steady pace. You can vary it up by adding more intervals or changing the activity of your intervals for your workouts.

You can dance it out, climb the stairs, do jacks or jog for your cardio intervals. In the video below I demonstrate a few low impact cardio bursts for you!

Mobility and Stretching Exercises

After 55, it’s imperative that you keep up your mobility and stretching. And during this time of pandemic living, it is even more important to keep moving.

Many of us have found ourselves moving even less than prior to the pandemic. We’re sitting for more hours, zooming, and not getting out as much as we had previously.

Mobility exercises can be very simple and they don’t need to be complex. Yoga is an excellent type of mobility exercise but you can also add small movement breaks throughout each day without a dedicated exercise session.

By using tools such as habit stacking, you create healthy habits and routines to support you. Habit stacking is a routine building tool where you add your exercises right after an activity that you already do daily.

Habit stacking works great to sprinkle additional movements throughout your day and keep you feeling full of energy. If you already know that you are going to be on a zoom call at a certain time, try standing for a portion of the call instead of sitting. And immediately afterwards, get some mobility exercise in.

Or if you sit all day on the computer for work, add in an extra walk up and down the stairs each time you go for a bathroom or meal break. Here are a few stretching exercises you can use to keep you moving and feeling full of energy.

Working on Balance

Last, but certainly not least, type of exercise that is especially important after 55, is balance exercises. As kids, we challenged our balance all day long from tag to running after our friends. Those quick direction changes, as well as balancing while walking along the curb, helped us create strong core muscles and built our balances.

There are two types of balance that are important for our bodies: static and dynamic balance. Static balance is the ability to stand on one foot. All the way up until our 90s, we should be able to maintain that single leg stance for 10 seconds.

In our 60s, 30 seconds is a great goal. This helps to prevent falls and promotes longevity. It’s easy enough to add this into our daily practice while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, pumping gas.  

Dynamic balance exercises insert movement to your day. Adding dynamic balance is as simple as getting away from seated exercises or weight machines and performing more dynamic strengthening exercises such as squats, lunges, and more.

Or maybe you enjoy dancing and adding in the grapevine – or other fancy footwork – gives you a challenge. Balance exercises are something you can quickly add in daily – just like your mobility exercises. 

Adding in your daily mobility and balance exercises and getting a few good strength and cardio workouts in your week will help to build your muscles, protect your joints, and bones, and help you to feel stronger, full of energy and even lose those stubborn pounds.

For a full guide to your workout routine and a couple quick workouts, download my free Thrive at 55 Guide.

How active were you before the pandemic? Has your activity level dropped in the past year? What kind of exercises have you been doing of late? Do you try to incorporate these four elements in your weekly exercise routine? Please share your efforts with the community!

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The Author

Aubrey Reinmiller is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist, and Functional Aging Specialist focused on helping those over 50 to reinvent aging! She offers online small group and private fitness solutions through Aubrey authored Reinvent Aging: The Over 50 Fitness Guide to Improve Energy, Strength and Balance.

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