Lifestyle

Getting Fit After 50 Is Tough!

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Fitness is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. We need to exercise to stay healthy. However, life often gets in the way. Most of us are busy with work, kids, chores, social gatherings, side hustles, and other activities. With bills to pay, who has time to exercise?

That’s the great thing about retirement. You have way more time when you don’t have to work. That’s fortunate because fitness is more important than ever as we grow older. Muscle mass, bone density, and metabolism can rapidly decline after 50, especially for women.   

However, it isn’t easy to start exercising after a long layoff. You might find that you can’t exercise like you used to. That’s what happened when I put fitness at the top of my New Year goals this year. My body isn’t as young as it used to be. Groan…

Joe’s fitness history

In my 20s and 30s, I used to exercise every weekday. My old office had a little gym and I set aside time to exercise at lunch. That’s the secret to consistency. Pencil it into your schedule every work day and you’ll be set. That way, you are still on track if you miss a day or two.

Unfortunately, early retirement derailed my exercise program. I quit my engineering career when I was 38 to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger. RB40Jr was 18 months old and it was tough. Supervising a toddler took up all of my time and energy. Exercise fell by the wayside for several years.

Things improved a bit after RB40Jr started school. I joined a gym and got back on track with exercise. Things were good for a while, but my exercise program was rudely interrupted by the Covid pandemic in 2020. I tried working out at home, but I couldn’t get into it. The living room wasn’t the right environment. Instead, I took Junior to play tennis, basketball, and baseball a few days per week during lockdown. That was good, but we stopped after he returned to school full-time.

In 2022 and 2023, I tried to increase my step count, but that didn’t work either. I couldn’t motivate myself to go for a walk often enough. It was easy when I was in Thailand because I walked everywhere. When I got back to the US, it was easier to drive everywhere. (I spent a lot of time in Thailand over the last few years because my mom was sick.)

Anyway, I turned 50 last year and health became my biggest priority. I need to exercise more consistently to enjoy a long healthy retirement. That’s why I rejoined my old gym and plan to exercise 3-4 times per week. I’ve been pretty successful so far.

Joe’s routine

Ok, here is my current routine.

Monday to Thursday – I have to get to the gym in the morning or else I won’t make it at all. That’s why I bike to the gym right after RB40Jr goes off to school. I work out with weights for about 20 minutes, get on the elliptical for 15 minutes, and then do a few core stretches. I figured I’d start light and work up to my old weight.  

Friday – I’m in a ceramic class on Fridays. I’ll write more about this in another blog post.

Saturday – I join the yoga class at the gym in the morning.

Sunday – This is my day off. I set it aside for recovery, writing a blog post, and taking my son to his Ultimate Frisbee games.

I’ve been pretty consistent so far. Usually, I exercise 3-4 times per week. It’s good to overschedule a bit because something always comes up. I’m still on track even if I miss a day or two.

Minor setback

Unfortunately, I’m not as young as I used to be. I started with light weights, but apparently, it wasn’t light enough. Now, my elbows, right knee, and lower back are all inflamed. I injured my right knee on a snowboard trip years ago so that’s old news. The yoga classes put a lot of stress on it and I’m feeling some pain. The lower back problem was from sitting in front of the computer for years. I don’t think that’ll ever go away completely. However, the elbow pain is new. That’s from working out with weights. These days, the ice pack is my constant companion.

My body isn’t as resilient as it used to be. I’ll keep going to the gym, but I need to modify the way I exercise. Over the last few weeks, I’ve dialed way back. When I work out, I use very light weights and limit the range of motion to minimize stress on the elbows. Also, I don’t follow the yoga teacher 100% anymore. I need to reduce stress on my joints. The inflammation is still there, but I think it’s slowly improving. I probably need to take some extended time off to completely recover.

Luckily, we’re heading to Japan and Thailand in June. I’ll be gone for 6 weeks. Hopefully, the joint pain will disappear with that kind of time off. We’ll get plenty of exercise from walking so I’m not too worried about my New Year goal. Walking 10,000 steps is a good exercise day. I’m pretty sure we’ll get plenty of steps in.

Conclusion

Fitness is a lifelong journey. Listen to your body, adjust your routine when needed, and most importantly, have fun! I enjoy working out at the gym, but most people don’t. You have to find some active activities that you like. Getting fit could be going for a bike ride, a hike, a swim, or joining a pickleball league. If you enjoy it, you’re more likely to continue.

My best tip is to overschedule your workouts a bit. That way, you can miss a day or two and you’ll still be on track.

What do you do to stay fit and healthy? Any good tips for joint pain?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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