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Exercise routines for men over 50

The need to exercise does not decrease with age. In fact, men over 50 need to exercise regularly to maintain strength, endurance and balance even more than their younger counterparts. The good news, especially for those men who already have been exercising regularly, is that the core needs do not change with age. Even for those men without a history of exercise, 50 is not too late to start a program, though you should always consult a doctor before beginning any exercise regime. The key is picking a routine you enjoy, but make sure it incorporates the following elements:

Strength

It's a myth that people in their 50s are unable to build muscle mass. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that men over 50 do strength-building exercises two or three times a week. This includes eight to 10 exercises, with about eight to 12 repetitions each, that strengthen the arms, shoulders, legs and abdomen. Use free weights, such as dumbbells, or weight machines, and start with a light weight, building up until finding the highest weight you can use to complete the exercise without becoming fatigued before the final repetition. Add weights as you develop strength and can perform the exercises without fatigue. Additionally, consider activities such as rowing, hiking, martial arts and cycling, all of which help to build strength.

Endurance

Aerobic exercises increase the heart rate and build stamina. Men over 50 should try to fit about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise into their schedule at least five days a week for optimal heart health. This can be done through a number of activities--hiking, dancing, swimming, a brisk walk, cycling, tennis and volleyball, for example--so pick the ones you enjoy the most. Keep track of your heart rate. Men in their 50s should aim to keep their heart rates between 85 beats per minute and 145 beats per minute while exercising, according to the American Heart Association. For men older than that, the rule of thumb is to keep your heart rate below a maximum of 220, minus your age. To estimate your heart rate, take your pulse for 10 seconds and then multiply that by six.

Flexibility and Balance

Men over 50 can maintain and grow their flexibility and balance through simple stretching and posture exercises. Maintaining balance as you age is particularly important to prevent dangerous falls. Do static stretches of all muscle groups, holding the stretch for about 20 seconds without bouncing. Work in some posture techniques. Try standing on one leg for 30 seconds, or try walking across the room keeping a book on your head. If you want even greater flexibility, consider joining a yoga or t'ai chis, which cater to people of all ages.

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About the Author

Michael Baker has worked as a full-time journalist since 2002 and currently serves as editor for several travel-industry trade publications in New York. He previously was a business reporter for "The Press of Atlantic City" in New Jersey and "The [Brazoria County] Facts" in Freeport, Texas. Baker holds a Master of Science in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.