"The American Journal of Medicine" reports that resistance exercise such as weightlifting helps offset the loss of strength that has traditionally been associated with aging. Weightlifting to increase strength generally involves lifting the maximum amount you can while still keeping proper form 8 to 10 times per set and repeating the set twice. Weightlifting for toning and maintenance requires lifting approximately 60% of your maximum capability for three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions. Remember to address muscles in both the upper and lower body as well as core muscles in the trunk.
Cardiovascular exercise, or cardio, helps your body utilize oxygen more effectively and has a significant impact on breathing and endurance. The American Heart Association recommends that a 55-year-old should have a target working heart rate of 83 to 140 beats per minute. Active gym exercises such as treadmills, elliptical machines, stair steppers or stationary bikes can provide excellent opportunities to maintain and improve your cardio health. For more fun and interest, many gyms also offer aerobic classes for cardio benefits.
Balance and Flexibility
Balance and flexibility enable us to perform daily movements safely and effectively. In addition to walking, running, climbing and other gym activities that involve switching weight from one foot to the other, your gym may also have special balls or boards for balance practice. Your gym may also offer flexibility classes or a stretching area where you can slowly stretch tight muscles to restore full range of joint motion.
Ideal Workout Beginning
An ideal workout for a 55-year-old man who is in average physical condition would begin with five minutes of an easy warm-up, such as walking on a treadmill. This can be followed by light static stretching of all the main areas of the body. Next, the focus should be on developing strength. Weight-lift at approximately 60 percent of full capacity. There are many kinds of weightlifting equipment, but you should focus on those that affect the primary muscle groups, such as the hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves in the lower body. Do at least 12 repetitions in each of three sets with approximately one minute of rest in between sets. Do upper and lower body work on alternating days.
Ideal Workout Completion
After strength work, do 30 minutes of cardio. You may use machines such as treadmills or stair steppers or you may swim, dance or cycle to elevate the heart rate to the appropriate training level. Finally, a 10-minute cool down should consist of full body, static or dynamic stretching, with extra attention given to the area that you worked that day.
Active joints may begin to experience osteoarthritis with age. Injuries may leave a lasting toll. While none of these things make exercise impossible, it is important to work with your physician to design a customized workout plan to suit your individual needs. Some pain may be inevitable to achieve gain, but extreme pain may be an indicator that something is seriously wrong. At age 55, it's time to work smarter, not just harder.