Let’s get one thing straight: You can be over 50 years old and do all the exercises on this list if you’re extremely active.
In fitness, there’s no universal list of no-nos that every single person on earth should avoid.
But, if you’re the average joe over 50—someone who isn’t necessarily devoted to optimal fitness and struggles to get to the gym, personal trainers and doctors will tell you there are certain exercises you shouldn’t do.
Why? Some exercises can exacerbate high blood pressure, for example. Additionally, since joints stiffen over time and we inevitably lose muscle mass, some activities may put you at greater risk for injury.
You should think twice before doing some of the exercises listed below if you’re over 50, or you should avoid them entirely in some cases.
You may also like: Over 60? Here Are 7 of the Best Exercises You Can Possibly Do
9 Exercises to Never Do After 50
Running a Marathon
Marathon running and long cardio workouts are not recommended for people over 50. Your cardiovascular system is more likely to be damaged by these types of exercises than if you were not exercising at all.
With age, you should start to focus on strength training rather than cardio. Your muscles are your longevity organ, and as you age, you have to work harder to keep them.
When people do cardio, they put more strain and stress on their cardiovascular system. They ought to be getting in more weight training, especially resistance training like TRX or resistance bands.
As you build functional muscle, you improve your cardiovascular health, improve your metabolism, and improve your posture.
A weight-training machine like this one is great for building quadriceps strength and even glute strength. But due to its design, this machine puts a lot of stress on your kneecaps, which are often weak points for people over 50.
Avoid the leg extension machine if you have had knee problems in the past or suffer from chronic inflammation.
As we age, many of us develop poor movement patterns, which have caused us to develop muscle imbalances and joint pain. Exercises that stress these joints can be problematic.
One of the most common issues is shoulder impingement when the tendon rubs against the bone in the shoulder.
Inflammation and pain result from the rotator cuff muscles getting tangled between the acromion and the humerus. Sometimes, the impingement can get bad enough to tear the muscle (torn rotator cuff).
Overhead presses, shoulder presses, and upright rows are common culprits that cause shoulder impingement.
If you must, ensure that the movement pattern does not put stress on the shoulder joint. Check that the seat is adjusted properly so the movement is smooth and you aren’t working outside your primary range of motion.
Crunches and V-Ups
Lower back pain is common among older people. Your back becomes tighter when you have a weak core. Prolonged sitting also tightens the hip flexors.
In fact, crunches and V-sits can strengthen your lower back and hip flexors more than your abs. When your core muscles are already strong, these exercises are beneficial, but you should stay away from them if you’re working to build them.
In addition to hurting your neck, sit-ups are also among the most ineffective abdominal exercises you can do, notes a study conducted by San Diego State University.
Instead do these core exercises to strengthen your core and lower back muscles.
Although box jumps can be great for improving your explosive power, there are some things to keep in mind as you age.
Firstly, there is the box itself. Eventually, you’re bound to have bloody shins if it is a wooden box. When tired, even the strongest athletes fall over and catch their toes, slamming their shins into the box.
There’s also how you land on the box. You need to pay attention to how your foot strikes and lands, whether it’s a hard or softbox.
You want to land softly on your full foot in a squat position, but what you see is people barely making it and landing on their toes, knees caving in, or shooting forward past their ankles.
Then there’s the way you come down from the box. People often rebound off the box and back onto it again to speed up their reps, which puts quite a bit of strain on the ankles, knees, calves, and shins.
If you’re not training for a professional sport and box jumps are part of your training program, you should avoid them.
Exercises such as burpees can be great full-body exercises to get the heart rate up in your workout, but they can cause a bit of wear and tear on your knees.
The downward motion of crouching before you pop your legs up behind you typically wears out your knees. If you do a burpee correctly, finding the bottom of a good squat before placing your hands on the ground, it’s softer on your body.
The lack of mobility people faces when squatting causes their knees to often extend past their ankles and their heels lift, causing excessive compression on their knees.
Further, this exercise is usually done quickly, which exacerbates the problem.
You can find alternative exercises that work your heart without wear and tear. If you row instead of doing burpees, your heart rate will spike just as fast (if not faster, depending on how hard you choose to work).
To maintain your upper body strength, you may want to do push-ups in combination with rowing.
The result would be greater full-body strength and the cardio burst you seek without putting too much pressure on your knee.
Lifting Heavy Weights
Weight training is one of the best methods for fast muscle mass, but it comes with some inherent risks. Your body, including your heart, can be seriously stressed by extra weight.
Ensure that you speak with your doctor before weightlifting if you have high blood pressure (over 180/110 mmHg).
Running on Hard Surfaces
When you’re not already a well-conditioned runner, you’re better off running on a softer surface, such as a dirt trail. Joint pain can be caused by repeated concussions on hard surfaces, whereas more delicate surfaces are more forgiving.
Intense Levels of Cardio
For women who are perimenopausal and beyond, it’s especially not a good idea to engage in high cardio levels.
A high-intensity cardio session can increase cortisol levels significantly, affecting your sleep and contributing to more hormone imbalance and adrenal fatigue.
As cortisol levels rise, you could also experience increased inflammation and accumulate fat around the midsection and diaphragm, contributing to metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
A high cortisol level lowers progesterone levels, which are already declining during perimenopause. Stress, happiness, and clarity are usually maintained by progesterone.
During perimenopause, women who exercise excessively and raise their cortisol levels, which are already high from stress, are at risk for experiencing greater anxiety, depression, and mood swings, along with increased fat stores.
It’s important to tread carefully when you’re getting older. You can’t afford to damage your valuable body.
It takes longer to heal, and the last thing you want is to be spending your golden years on a hospital bed in pain.
It’s equally important to stay fit and healthy. So don’t ditch exercise altogether, either. There’s a middle line. Now, you know which exercises to avoid and focus on workouts that offer endurance and safety.