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Simply being male automatically increases your risk of developing heart disease. Being older than 45 adds another risk factor that's compounded for African-American men. If you're inactive -- you do less than 30 minutes of moderate activity at least three times a week -- that adds another factor. Then there's being overweight, especially if you carry that fat around the middle. As a man over 50, you can't change some risk factors, but you can avoid or reverse others through proper diet and exercise, and the half-century mark is not too late to begin.
The American Heart Association and others recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for health and weight maintenance, and twice that much -- or upping the intensity -- may be required for weight loss, according to Mayo Clinic. So your workout should include cardio on the treadmill, elliptical or stair climber at the gym or walking briskly or running outdoors. If it's been a while since you've exercised, don't try to prove something to the younger guys by running at top speed. Just like any muscle, your heart needs to be conditioned. Start at 40 percent to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate for 15 minutes, building to 30 minutes. After four to six weeks of regular workouts, up the intensity to between 50 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, and increase the time if you want to lose weight.
Muscle begins to diminish around your 40s, and the loss accelerates even more after age 75. Like anyone of any age, you should concentrate on working the major muscle groups of the pecs, shoulders and upper back, lats, ams, legs and abs. If you can do two or more sets of eight to 12 repetitions, by all means, go for it. However, the American College of Sports Medicine notes that for adults 50 to 65, one set of 10 to 15 reps may be just as good.
Work Your Midsection
Men sometimes focus on running and lifting, and neglect their cores. A strong core leads to better posture, thus helping you avoid backaches. Plus it just makes you feel and look stronger when you can walk upright -- not stooped -- with a strong, straight back. Situps and crunches on the floor or a ball are as important for men as for women. As you get stronger, you can try inclined crunches or situps or a hanging leg/hip raise. You don't have to work fast; work smart. There's no reward for how many situps you can do in a minute. Instead, try to reach the deep muscles using proper form. And don't forget to work the opposing erector spinae with back extensions.
Your maximum heart rate is probably not as high as it used to be, so the standard 220 minus your age formula for tracking cardio intensity won't work. Outdoor training expert Courtenay Schurman recommends 208 minus 0.7 times your age. You may also find that you need more rest days between workouts. The general recommendation is at least 24 hours between working the same muscles. It doesn't matter how many days' rest you allow as long as you fit in at least two workouts per week. Balance and flexibility training are also something you may have overlooked when you were younger. After 50, it's important to include these in your regular workout routine.