Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best things you can do as you age—it increases your mobility and flexibility, improves your endurance, and helps you sleep better, according to WebMD. Plus, cardio can even make you live longer! But with the good comes the bad. Over time, cardio can limit your progress, put unnecessary wear and tear on your joints, and can even make you feel worse. We’ve rounded up the worst cardio habits that are destroying your body in your 50s, so read on to learn more about them—and how to avoid them to thrive in your 50s and beyond.
1. You exercise through pain or injuries.
This is a big no-no. While it’s admirable to exercise “however,” always play the long game with fitness. If you have pain or injuries, take one step back so you can take two steps forward by resting and rehabilitating. However, if you push through the problems, you may make them much worse, which can lead to even longer absences from training and poorer physical condition.
2. You don’t add low-impact cardio.
For example, running is great cardio, but if you’re just running on pavement, it can be hard on your joints and tendons – especially if you’re untrained and have poor technique.
Instead, it’s much better for your muscles, joints, and general progress to use a variety of methods that give your body a break from time to time while improving your fitness. Add methods like cycling, swimming, hiking or rowing to your weekly routine and you will feel the difference.
3. You exercise too often.
It’s great to exercise several times a week, but if you’re pushing every day—or sometimes twice a day—you’re putting too much stress on your body. As you age, your body recovers more slowly, so you need to manage your training frequency to give your muscles, joints and ligaments a chance to recover and rebuild so you can get back to 100%.
4. You push yourself to exhaustion too often.
You shouldn’t tire yourself out every time you exercise. Sure, it’s great to feel tired after a long workout, but if you do it every single time, you’re putting far more strain on your body than it can recover from.
5. You skip warm-ups and cool-downs.
When it comes to cardio, many people skip the warm-up and go straight to the workout. The problem, however, is that you don’t prepare your body to withstand physical activity, and you increase the chance of injury, pain, or just poor performance.
Always do a thorough warm-up – especially if you’re older. Then, when you finish exercising, stretch your muscles to improve your flexibility, which is critical in your 50s and beyond.
6. You always use the highest intensity.
Exercising at a high intensity—pushing your heart rate to the highest end—has its value, but if you always train this way, you’re missing out on a lot more benefits. Low-intensity, long-duration exercise does wonders for your cardiovascular health without having to go all out.
However, High Intensity Cardio can also be very demanding. Just do it once or twice a week and mix it in with a lower intensity workout to improve your overall fitness.
7. You are using poor technique.
Always use the correct technique when doing cardio. Whether you’re running or swimming, exercising with poor form can cause overuse injuries because you’re putting a lot of repetitive strain on the wrong muscles and joints.
For example, running is not just “walking really fast”; it requires correct foot strike, posture, footwear, cadence and more. If in doubt, have a trainer monitor your form so you can feel great for years to come.
Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert for Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health magazine and founder of GroomBuilder. It is a destination for men who want to change their body for the wedding. Join our free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony