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50+ Riders, how do you stay fit?

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  • 50+ Riders, how do you stay fit?

    I just turned 60 and having trouble deciding the best diet and exercise program that is not high impact but enough to get me more fit for eventing. I took my dogs for a walk today and was up and down some hills and thought I was going to die.
    I need some ideas, what works, what to avoid. I've done low carb and weight watchers with some success but not satisfied with the program. Thanks for any ideas.

  • #2
    Exercise wise, I ride and swim several times a week and I walk as much as possible. I see a chiropractor, acupuncturist and foot health professional regularly. But I also listen to my body. If I swim too long, I feel horrid. If I do less, but do it more often, I find it better for me. Diet wise, I'm diabetic so I'm fairly careful and eat regular meals, not skipping any, otherwise I pick and snack. I'm better on protein than carbs, but there is a lot of research about different body types and food needs.
    "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


    • #3
      I think at this point in time your genes are dictating what happens with your body for the most part. I'm in my mid 50s and since I hit 50, it's been a bit more of a struggle every year. Lifting weights is huge for me, I'm in the gym 3x a week religiously. I ride often, but not in the winter. I will also walk the dogs through the woods and fields at a pretty brisk pace. I'm thinking of starting yoga since I do very little stretching.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Willesdon View Post
        Exercise wise, I ride and swim several times a week and I walk as much as possible. I see a chiropractor, acupuncturist and foot health professional regularly. But I also listen to my body. If I swim too long, I feel horrid. If I do less, but do it more often, I find it better for me. Diet wise, I'm diabetic so I'm fairly careful and eat regular meals, not skipping any, otherwise I pick and snack. I'm better on protein than carbs, but there is a lot of research about different body types and food needs.
        ^^^^Sound advice. I also do better on protein but my serious flaw is the love of carbs, so I backslide often. My best eating success is no serious food after 4:00 or 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM max if DH (who still works full time) decides to bring supper home after work..

        If I want an evening snack, I eat yogurt - quality yogurt with live culture as my digestive tract is off track. If I still think I need something, I will slice up a banana and pour a bit of local honey over it.

        I was raised on a dairy farm, so used to hard work. I was also a heavy user of gym equipment when I was younger. IMHO, ya can't beat farm work to exercise all the muscles. I am 72, I still clean stalls every day, take the dump cart to the manure pile and rake the manure off.

        Not everyone has that farm privilege, however, so gym classes or home workout equipment is great to maintain upper body strength. Do sit ups if you're that energetic

        Some gyms do offer "Silver" workout classes that are geared to seniors. You might see if there are any Silver classes in your area, if you enjoy being with people

        Best wishes on finding a workout program that works for you


        • #5
          I ride daily and care for my 4 horses --but I also exercise --spin indoors using a YouTube program (varies) for 30-40 min each day. I am a Mounted Archer, too --so upper body gets an almost daily workout shooting a few arrows --unless it is too cold to feel my fingers. I have always been a calorie counter ---aim to keep below 1500 daily. Usually do. I don't drink (too many calories) and avoid all sugary drinks (and diet drinks --just drink water and coffee).


          • #6
            I'm 56. I was a runner and still will run up to 6 miles a day when the weather is decent but have cut back significantly due to inclement weather. I still do quite a bit of hiking often doing 10 miles a day. In place of a regular running regimen I do a lot of high intensity interval training which includes weights. I too grew up on a dairy farm and have my horses at home so I'm use to and continue to do heavy physical labor though my joints are telling me the toll it's taking. I eat a high protein diet which is balanced with supplements and age-geared vitamins. I still work full-time which is also fairly physical and has me on my feet the entire time. Considering I use to ride at least 3-4 horses daily (14 cared for daily) in addition to my full-time job, I've scaled back quite a bit with just two horses to ride, three I care for daily. Staying in shape is more of a challenge and I feel it far more than I use to but it's a promise I made myself when I was watching my aging father deteriorate. I strive to work out at least 5 days a week in some form or fashion.
            Ranch of Last Resort


            • #7
              Now that I'm in my 60s, the biggest issue with staying fit is the time it takes. Bad knee, bad hip, bad shoulder, bad elbow, back problems beginning to show up. All of these issues mean that I have to be much more considered in what I do. No more running and working with weights isn't as easy.

              Lots of walking and hill work seem to be the best approach - not unlike what I would prescribe for my horse. But it just seems to take so much time to maintain/improve fitness level that way. I keep telling myself that it will be easier once I retire and have more time, but I'm not sure that's really true.
              "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
              that's even remotely true."

              Homer Simpson


              • #8
                I am about to hit 53 and am struggling as menopause takes over and my body shape is changing. I have two at home that I do all care for, a full time job (teaching) and a DH to take care of. (ha!). I also have had a series of health setbacks over the last 4 years that have absolutely taken a toll on my body shape and overall fitness, especially a series of foot surgeries that kept me non-weight bearing for months at a time. Hard to exercise or get back into a routine.

                All that said, I ride 3 days a week now. I walk with my dogs as much as I can (DH usually manages their exercise), and try to get to the gym for recumbent bike and elliptical interval training along with a weight machine program designed to avoid my old orthopedic injuries (no shoulder work, no straining my low back) along with stretches from my PT and core work (modified planking and more from my PT).

                As far as diet, I am practicing the 10 hour fasting plan-no eating after 7pm until 7:00 am usually (that's 12 isn't?!). I eat lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein. My weakness is carbs-- but I try to manage portion size and quality of carb. If I'm eating bread it's the best bread I can find!
                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                • #9
                  61, have let fitness go to pot for years, now desperate to get into some sort of shape for this show year.

                  Does anyone follow any of the online fitness programs, especially those aimed at riders?
                  "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                  "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig


                  • #10
                    Getting a regular massage helps a lot. I go once a month.

                    You might want to have blood work done to make sure everything is alright. I found out my iron and vitamin D was low. Taking those supplements has given me more energy.
                    In memory of Apache, who loved to play.


                    • #11
                      I'm 71, but in my youth when I was 69 I went to a Julie Goodnight session at Equine Affaire, "How to Ride until you are 90." There was a huge crowd, including a few in their 80s. My 25 y.o. gelding and I have a Century Ride in 18 months. He's in great shape, better than I am. There were 2 main points I'm focusing on from Julie's session.

                      First is standing in your stirrups, starting at the walk. Not 2-point and you can grab some mane if you need to. You should still have a straight line starting at your ear and down through the ankle. Your legs will go back a bit and you need to keep your chin up, not looking down. It's good for your core and balance as well as strength. I did it pretty consistently for a while but got lazy. When I started up again I realized how much it had helped. You move on to the trot and maybe canter, but don't force yourself.

                      Second, Julie also had a good point about posture. She was 58 or so and had noticed that her younger sister was getting the hunched-over look. She emphasized that if you lose those muscles you won't get them back. Check your posture often. I sort of did, but not often enough. Lately I've been getting an unhappy spot in my left lower back usually when I stand up after sitting for a bit. If I stop and realign, especially my shoulders, and concentrate on standing up straight, the pain disappears and I feel looser.

                      I view both of these as good for your riding and good for regular living. My last job before I retired in 7/18 kept me desk-bound. I really had to concentrate on getting out of my chair regularly and going somewhere. I'm not any version of athletic, being uncoordinated and overweight. It was pretty clear when I spent more time at the barn that I needed to do more walking, combined with standing in the stirrups and paying attention to my posture.

                      I had a wonderful private lesson with Susan Harris after a weekend clinic recently. I have a video of the last 20 minutes and just watched it again. She had me standing frequently at the walk which emphasized how much it helps. What surprised me was how well I did at the trot. I was much looser and more flexible and it was much easier that I thought it would be. I did not realize how often I look down and how it blocks my horse, particularly the walk-trot transition. If I do it when I'm trotting I create a trot-walk transition.

                      I probably could be doing more, but this is a lot more fun and is making me a better rider on a happier horse.
                      "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019


                      • Original Poster

                        I have a treadmill at home and need to drag it out and use it for its intended purpose instead of a coat hanger/tack rack. I admit I do a fair bit of snacking especially on days when I just veg in front of the TV. I still work a full time job and do all barn work for one horse but will be adding a second hopefully soon. (Note to self - fix the fencing). I don't ride as much as I'd like because I have to haul out having no place to ride at home.

                        Lots of good suggestions - cut out the snacking, cut back on the wine, and move more. Hard to get motivated during these dark gray days.


                        • #13
                          This is amazing! It helps with core strength, is tightening my stomach and I can feel it in my calves!

                          I also do yoga. I can only do about 30 minutes or I get dizzy and nauseous (I have very low blood pressure and can't do pilates either,) so I follow I pause when I need to and resume when I feel ready.

                          I also walk my dog every morning.

                          Two point in the tack is great to strengthen legs and core! And really jack those stirrups up high!
                          Lori T
                 for product updates on the lines I rep


                          • #14
                            Eat food, not too much. Mostly plants. - Michael Pollen

                            Sleep, at least 8 hours per night. - Dr. Kenneth Walker:

                            Exercise, with saunas, because a little physiological stress is good for you.

                            Optimize health by following Dr Rhonda PatrickÔÇÖs sage advice.


                            • #15
                              ^^Interesting about the "Heat Stress" being allegedly beneficial. I can't stand being in a sauna, literally, my heart starts racing and I feel like I'm going to pass out.

                              As I said on the other thread...I am trying to get back into the shape I was in when I was going to the gym 2x a week. Am on a tight budget now so trying to find low-cost alternatives. I will look into my local YMCA and see what type of classes they offer, it seems I don't have to join but can pay per class.

                              What worked for me was:
                              - regular Pilates, Yoga, Zumba classes
                              - walking the dog (brisk pace, hilly terrain) for 30 minutes every day
                              - Pushing myself to ride my horse longer and look for cardio benefit (i.e, long canter sets, no-stirrup work, 2-point trot sets etc)
                              - eating less (smaller portions) and better. My weakness is chocolate. Specifically, Lindt sea salt & caramel dark chocolate tablets.

                              I remember using MyFitnessPal with success the last time I tried to lose weight. Counting calories eaten, calories burned in exercise, etc. It was a bit inconvenient to remember recording everything but it worked.
                              Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                              • #16
                                YOGA!!! One hour a day at home. I LOVE Yoga with Adriene which is free on YouTube, or you can join her low cost membership for $10 a month. She is fantastic. I also ride my two horses almost every day and the one moving toward GP is giving me a good core work out! I also try to not take short cuts with everyday things like parking at the far end of the parking lot to go into stores, etc.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Malda View Post
                                  Getting a regular massage helps a lot. I go once a month.

                                  You might want to have blood work done to make sure everything is alright. I found out my iron and vitamin D was low. Taking those supplements has given me more energy.
                                  Desiccated beef liver is a great source of iron, B and other vitamins.
                                  Ubiquinol instead of CoQ10 is much easier for us older bodies to absorb.
                                  Don't forget vitamin C also = energy.
                                  Of course B12 and D3 w/K2

                                  All of these make me feel pretty darned good. Without them, I'm not terribly functional.


                                  • #18
                                    I also love yoga with Adrienne! I get dizzy and nauseous doing yoga ( I have very low blood pressure. Can't do pilates either.) By doing yoga at home, I can hit the pause button when I start to get dizzy and resume when I feel better.
                                    I also love the Simply Fit Board (Shark Tank). It is great for working the core, my calf muscles feel it and it helps with my balance.
                                    Walks every morning with my dog.
                                    And lots of 2 point. Hike the stirrups up extra short for a really good workout!
                                    Lori T
                           for product updates on the lines I rep


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by KBC View Post
                                      61, have let fitness go to pot for years, now desperate to get into some sort of shape for this show year.

                                      Does anyone follow any of the online fitness programs, especially those aimed at riders?

                                      I went and hunted that thread down for you. Now I'm going to take my temperature.


                                      • #20
                                        My plan, at 68, addresses a variety of issues. I have problems with my neck, knees and an asymmetry, so I have exercises from a physical therapist for those problems. I do Pilates matwork for core strength. I do Eckart Meyners exercises for body awareness and coordination, and I go to an Alexander Technique guy once a week for fascia and to become more aware of how I use my body. AND I do balance exercises on a Bosu to help me avoid falls and fractures. I hope to add some Tai Chi. Some walking and more posting trot for cardiovascular work.

                                        It's a wonder I have any time to do anything else. Well, I wouldn't have time, if I actually did all of these things as often as I would like.