This question may come to mind when fitness and healthcare professionals strongly encourage various forms of exercise. How much “in shape” or “fit” do I need to be? Many articles and studies highlight the numerous physical, neurological and cellular benefits to exercise.
The best answer is to turn the question back on you…how fit do you need to be to carry out the physical demands of your everyday life? What can that entail?
- Sitting down.
- Getting up.
- Stepping to the side and reaching for something.
- Reaching up to get something.
- Carrying heavy items on one side while walking.
- Turning to see what is around you.
- Walking up stairs or on uneven ground.
- Conditioned enough not to be winded at the top of the stairs.
- Clothing and bathing yourself.
The list goes on…
This physical ability to carry out everyday tasks is also called your functional capacity.
Another way of phrasing this is – what do you enjoy doing and what do you need to do physically to be able to do it? Vacations? Visiting and playing with grandkids? Hiking trips? Running marathons? Enjoying the sites at a national park? Everything that brings you joy incorporates some sort of movement, regardless if that just means walking across the floor to open the door for a family member.
To answer the question one way: You should be as fit as your life demands.
This idea means you should not structure your life around your bodies limitations especially if they include your functional capacity. Instead, you should practice, exercise, and “train” to be able to do what you want to do easier and with less thought about how your body is moving.
Another way to answer the question is: Be as fit as you can possibly be.
Striving to be fit is a lifelong journey. As we age we may have to adapt and change the ways that we do exercise, but that does not mean we stop challenging ourselves. The more you move better every day you are rewarded with independence, confidence, and peace of mind that you don’t let your age determine what you can or cannot do.
To be clear, being “fit” is more than strength (although it is important, as especially leg strength is associated with morality).
It is also the power to move quickly if necessary.
It is also the agility to be able to walk over and around objects.
It is also the balance to be able to walk, bend, carry things and do things simultaneously.
It is also the mobility and flexibility to move your ankles, knees, hips, wrists, neck, and shoulders.
It is also the ability to be able to get to the ground and stand back up.
You CAN be fit over 50. You deserve to live the life you want to live!