7 cardio habits that will destroy your body after 50

Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best things you can do as you age — it increases your mobility and flexibility, improves your stamina and helps you sleep better, according to WebMD. Plus, doing cardio can even extend your life! But with the good there is also the bad. Over time, cardio can limit your progress, put unnecessary wear and tear on your joints, and even make you feel worse. We’ve rounded up some of the worst cardio habits that will destroy your body after 50, so read on to learn more about them — and how to avoid them to thrive in your 50s and beyond.

1. You train through pain or injury.

mature woman suffering from knee pain while performing cardio, on a run

This is a big no-no. While it’s admirable to exercise “no matter what,” always play the long-term fitness game. If you are in pain or injury, take a step back so you can take two steps forward by resting and rehabilitating. However, if you push through problems, you can make them much worse, which can lead to an even longer absence from training and poorer physical condition.

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2. You’re not adding low-impact cardio.

For example, running is great cardio, but just running on pavement 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 overall progress to use different methods to give your body an occasional break while still improving your fitness. Add methods such as cycling, swimming, walking or rowing to your weekly routine and you will feel the difference.

3. You exercise too often.

man running outside in snow, healthy holiday habits to lose weight

It’s great to work out several times a week, but if you’re pushing every day—or sometimes twice a day—you’re putting way too much pressure on your body. As you age, your body recovers more slowly, so you need to manage your exercise frequency to give your muscles, joints, and ligaments a chance to recover and rebuild so you can feel 100% again.

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4. You drive yourself to exhaustion too often.

You shouldn’t push yourself to exhaustion every time you exercise. Sure, it’s fine to feel fatigued after a long workout, but doing that every time puts a lot more strain on your body than you can recover from.

5. You skip warm-ups and cool-downs.

adult runner stretching outside

When it comes to cardio, many people skip the warm-up and go straight to training. The problem, however, is that you’re not preparing your body for the physical activity, and you’re increasing the chances of injury, aches, or just plain poor performance.

Always do a thorough warm-up, especially if you are older. When you’re done exercising, stretch your muscles to improve your flexibility, which is critical in your 50s and beyond.

6. You always use the highest intensity.

High-intensity training — pushing it to the top of your heart rate — has its merits, but if you always train that way, you’re missing out on many more benefits. Prolonged, low-intensity exercise works wonders for your cardiovascular health without the strain of going all out.

However, high-intensity cardio can also be very demanding. Do it just once or twice a week and mix in lower-intensity exercise so you can improve your full spectrum of fitness.

7. You use bad technique.

Always use proper 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 stress on the wrong muscles and joints.

For example, running isn’t just “walking really fast”; it requires correct foot set, posture, footwear, cadence and more. When in doubt, ask a coach to oversee your form so you can feel great for many years to come.

Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the go-to destination for men looking to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony

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