Build strength, boost metabolism, find support: The Y is the perfect place to find activities and programs tailored to all fitness abilities and goals.

Most people may agree “age is just a number,” however those digits have an effect on other numbers we care more about as we enter middle age. Blood pressure. Weight. Cholesterol. Etc. These stats (that our younger selves barely noticed) impact many areas of our lives once we reach age 50, when staying fit becomes a necessity rather than a luxury. At the YMCA, adult fitness goes well beyond your typical Cedar Rapids gym membership. Support, encouragement and a sense of community are not the exception but the norm.

If you’re unsure where to start on a fitness routine, as a Y member you can schedule a free Wellness Orientation. You’ll discuss your wellness goals and learn how to use the fitness equipment that will best meet your needs, whatever your ability level. If you’re worried about obstacles keeping you from exercise. know that every step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. To help guide you, focus on these three key areas. Each is equally important and all work together toward overall fitness.

3 keys to being fit after 50:

1. Build strength

Strength training is crucial as we get older. Building and maintaining strong muscles will decrease your chances of injury, as well as boost your metabolism (note its importance below). Muscle is built after your workout, while the body is recovering. While your body builds muscle, it burns calories. Walking, swimmingcycling or group exercise classes at the Y, coupled with lifting weights, will help burn fat and build strength. Note that lifting lighter weights with higher reps can be just as effective as the heavier weights and lower reps of our youth.

Building muscle and strength well into your fifties, sixties and beyond will pay dividends. BODYPUMP, a group exercise class at the Y, is a great way to get started lifting weights. If you prefer building strength through resistance, try CXWORX. For a personalized exercise plan to meet your specific goals, you may want to consult with one of our personal trainers.

2. Boost metabolism

When it comes to increasing your metabolism, exercise is obviously important. That’s why a Y membership is so valuable. But in between your visits to the Cedar Rapids / Marion Area YMCAs, the energy you expend in daily activity outside of sleeping, eating and exercise is also crucial to helping burn calories. It’s called “NEAT, ” or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It’s simple to focus on improving your NEAT numbers. If you think about your daily tasks, look for ways to build in increased motion. For example:

  • If you work at a desk, stand up every hour and walk around for 5 minutes
  • Don’t look for the closest parking spot – look for one farther away and enjoy the stroll to the door
  • Use part of your lunch break to take a walk. Bonus: encourage co-workers to join you! You can chat while you  all boost your metabolisms!
  • Challenge yourself to 30 minutes of movement immediately after dinner. Watch the clock – doing dishes and cleaning up may be just the trick.
  • Take the stairs instead of using the elevator (a classic!)

If you don’t already have one, a pedometer or activity tracker (like a Fitbit) is a great way to get actual data on your NEAT efforts. And with the holidays coming, it’s an easy thing to add to your wish list.

3. Find support

Support comes in all shapes and sizes, just like us. It could be a pat on the back or a welcoming feeling you get when our welcome desk staff say hello. It may be a nod of encouragement, a workout buddy, an exuberant group exercise instructor, or a free fitness coach to help orient you to the fitness equipment. Remember, you don’t need to be an elite athlete to work with a personal trainer. Our trainers will help formulate a workout plan tailored to your age, needs and abilities. When you surround yourself with others who provide encouragement and support, it makes all the difference to your success. In fact, people who work out together in fitness classes or on weight equipment, etc. are more likely to stick with it than people who exercise solo. So grab a friend, or make one, and try some classes at the Y!

The YMCA is much more than a gym membership. Whether you’ve been a member for days or decades, you’ll find a variety of programs and activities tailored to suit your interests and abilities. We focus on long-term health and overall well-being.

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