Endurance training has an extensive list of pros. This form of fitness is an excellent way to shield your metabolism from the effects of getting older, according to Harvard Health Publishing. It can also lower body fat, decrease blood sugar levels, and give your cardiovascular system a solid boost. Plus, research shows that middle-aged men who performed endurance training reversed the impact 30 years of aging had on their cardiovascular capacity. Needless to say, endurance exercise is key to staying in good health and in great shape. We spoke with the experts who break down their top-recommended endurance exercises you should be doing after 60.
Keep reading to learn more, and next, don't miss 5 Fitness Habits To Build Stamina & Endurance as You Age.
Cardiovascular endurance versus muscular endurance
Before we begin, let's talk about the difference between cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance. Cardiovascular endurance is how efficiently your lungs and heart feed your body oxygen when performing medium- or high-intensity exercise, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Muscular endurance is essentially the duration of time your muscles are able to do an exercise, Medical News Today explains.
Chrisi Moutopoulos, ISSA CPT, personal training regional manager of GYMGUYZ, tells us that the benefits of muscle endurance include helping you preserve solid posture and core stability, boosting the aerobic capacity of your muscles, improving your performance in endurance sports, and enhancing your ability to perform daily tasks like lifting up heavy boxes or items.
Today, we're breaking down some of the most beneficial endurance exercises you should do after 60 to benefit your cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
Moutopoulos dubs pushups one of the "safest and most crucial exercises for muscular endurance" for individuals who are over the age of 60. "This is a dynamic strength exercise that involves your chest, shoulders, arms, and core. Pushups can help improve muscular endurance, strength, and posture. If pushups on the toes are too intense, you can start from the knees and still reap the benefits," Moutopoulos adds.
This total-body exercise focuses on building up both the muscular endurance and strength of your core, Moutopoulos explains. Sculpting a strong, fit core is a "foundational part" of countless other exercises and daily activities you do.
To set up for planks, you'll place your forearms on the ground, line your elbows up with your shoulders, and press up onto your toes. Your body should form a straight line. Your core should remain tight and your spine neutral as you hold this position, PureGym explains.
"Squats are the quintessential lower-body exercise to build muscular endurance," Moutopoulos says. "For people over 60, it is important to maintain lower body strength to stay mobile and independent."
To set up for bodyweight squats, plant your feet in a shoulder-width or hip-width stance. Press your hips back and bend both knees to descend into a squat, PureGym instructs. Press both knees outward upon descent so that they don't cave in. Keep your arms straight out in front of your body or at each side. Your thighs should form a parallel position to the ground before you press through your feet to rise back up.
"Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that will strengthen everything from your shoulders to your glutes and more," says Moutopoulos. "It's great for older adults since it doesn't put wear and tear on the joints."
"The non-impact nature of indoor cycling is one of the major draws of the activity—especially for older individuals," says Donna Cennamano, NASM CPT and manager of instructor training for CycleBar. "The fact that the bike is stationary is also safer for seniors, preventing falls or other accidents that can happen when riding outside. Riders can control the amount of resistance on the wheel and monitor levels of intensity."
If you've ever taken a cycling class before, you know that riding to music that pumps you up with a bunch of like-minded individuals is an awesome bonus to the cardiovascular and muscular endurance gains. This form of exercise also appeals to individuals of all ages and levels of fitness.
Last but not least, walking may seem like a pretty simple exercise, but according to the Heart Foundation, carving out time for a 30-minute daily walk can decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Getting into the habit of walking can also help you maintain a healthy weight, boost your mood, and take control of your bone density.
"You will increase your endurance by walking regularly, which is low-impact, so it's easy on the joints," Cennamano says. "It can also promote socialization with a friend or even serve as a meditative experience. A tip for longevity is to get a proper fitting for walking shoes that offer support!"