Top 5 Gentle Exercises to Burn Fat After 50

We all know losing weight and staying fit after 50 can be challenging, especially when high-impact exercises and high-intensity workouts are no longer an option. Fortunately, we have some excellent news for older adults looking to age healthily and stay fit—you don’t have to push your body to its limits to achieve your fitness goals. Low-impact workouts like the ones we’re about to share offer a gentle yet effective way to burn fat, build muscle, and boost your overall health. We spoke with certified personal trainers who serve up their five best low-impact workouts for melting away body fat after 50 and beyond.

As you age, it’s natural to lose muscle mass and strength (a condition called sarcopenia), which makes your body more prone to falls and injuries. That’s why it’s essential to choose workouts that are gentle on your joints. Low-impact exercises help you stay fit without putting unnecessary strain on your body, reducing the risk of injuries and allowing you to exercise comfortably. Additionally, research suggests that low-intensity exercise can improve older adults’ physical and mental health because it’s easier to stick with, reduces injury risk, and can be sustained over the long term.

Regardless of your age or fitness level, these workouts are designed to help you burn calories, tone your muscles, and elevate your fitness, all while being easy on your joints. So read on for the five best low-impact workouts for fat loss after 50.

Workout #1

Rachel MacPherson, CPT, an ACE-certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews, tells us, “Perform the first three workouts as a circuit. Complete each exercise in the order listed, then loop back to the beginning and go through them again for a second round, keeping rest times short to maintain intensity.”

1. Cardio: Wide Side Steps

“Start with your feet together. Step out to the side with your left foot, then bring your right foot to meet it. Repeat on the other side. Add arm movements to increase intensity,” says MacPherson. Perform this movement for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.

2. Upper-body Strength: Incline Pushups

MacPherson explains, “Stand facing a sturdy table or a bench. Place your hands on the edge, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Step your feet back so your body forms a straight line from head to toe. Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the edge, then push back up.” Complete 10 to 12 reps.

3. Lower-body Strength: Chair Squats

“Stand in front of a chair with your feet hip-width apart,” says MacPherson. “Lower your body until your butt touches the chair, then stand back up. Keep your weight in your heels and your chest up.” Do 10 to 15 reps.

4. Cardio: Wide Side Steps

side steps

Repeat the first exercise of this workout for 30 seconds. Rest for one minute, then repeat the circuit three to four times.

Workout #2

1. Cardio: Low-impact Jumping Jacks

“Step out to the side with your right foot while swinging your arms overhead. Step back to the center and repeat on the left side. Keep the movements fluid and avoid jumping,” says MacPherson. Do this exercise for 30 seconds before moving on.

2. Upper-body Strength: Lat Pull With Band

“Grab a resistance band and hold it taut above your head, with your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart,” MacPherson instructs. “Sit or stand with a straight back and engaged core. Keep one hand stationary and pull down with the other, bringing your elbow toward your rib cage. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.” Complete 12 reps on each side.

3. Lower-body Strength: Knee Lift with Medicine Ball (or Dumbbell/Kettlebell)

“Hold a medicine ball with both hands in front of your chest. Lift your right knee toward the ball, lower it, and repeat with the left knee. Keep your abs tight and move at a controlled pace,” explains MacPherson. Do 10 reps per leg

4. Cardio: Low-impact Jumping Jacks

Repeat the first exercise of this workout for 30 seconds. Rest for one minute, then repeat the circuit three to four times.

Workout #3

1. Cardio: Walking or Marching in Place

MacPherson says, “March in place, keeping your posture upright, lifting your knees high with each step, and swinging your arms to increase your heart rate.” Perform for two minutes, then jump into the first exercise.

2. Upper Body/Core: Pallof Press with Resistance Band

“Attach a resistance band to a sturdy object at chest height,” instructs MacPherson. “Stand perpendicular to the band with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the band with both hands in front of your chest. Press the band straight out in front of you, then slowly bring it back in. Keep your core tight and resist any rotation.” Perform 10 reps per side.

3. Lower Body/Back Strength: Deadlifts with Light Dumbbells

illustration of dumbbell deadlift

“Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a light dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge at your hips to lower the dumbbells toward the ground, keeping your back flat. Squeeze your glutes to return to standing,” says MacPherson. Do eight to 10 reps.

4. Functional Strength: Suitcase Carry (Light Weight)

MacPherson says, “Hold a light dumbbell or a sturdy water bottle in one hand like a suitcase. Keep your shoulders back and down, and walk around your room or space. Switch hands after one set to work both sides of your body evenly.” Perform this movement for one minute per hand, for two minutes total.

Workout #4

1. Brisk Walking

illustration of woman on a brisk walk

Lace up your walking shoes, hop on a treadmill, or get outside and briskly walk for five to 10 minutes.

2. Pushups

illustration of woman doing pushups

Kyrie Furr, CPT, a certified personal trainer and performance coach with Barbend, tells ETNT, “Pushups can be done from the floor or an elevated surface. Start with your arms extended, maintaining a straight line with your body. Lower your chest toward the floor or elevated surface. Push through the palms to straighten your arms.” Perform three sets of 10 to 15 reps.

2. Bodyweight Squats

illustration of squats

“Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward,” Furr instructs. “Keep your back straight, chest up, and core engaged. You can extend your arms straight in front of you for balance or keep them relaxed by your sides. Pushing your hips back, like you would sit in a chair, lower your body as low as possible. Your back should remain straight at the bottom of the squat, with your chest lifted.” Do three sets of 15 to 20 reps.

3. Inverted Rows

inverted row illustration

“Lie beneath a sturdy horizontal bar and grab it with an overhand grip, arms shoulder-width apart,” says Furr. Keep your body straight, pull your chest toward the bar while keeping your elbows back, and lower yourself back down with control.” Complete three sets of eight to 12 reps.

4. Lunges

lunges exercise

“Take a step forward with one leg, lowering your hips toward the floor, keeping the front knee over the ankle,” instructs Furr. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps per leg.

5. Side Leg Raises

“Stand tall and lift one leg to the side, keeping it straight. Lower it back down and repeat on the other side,” says Furr. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps on each leg.

6. Planks

plank pose

“Get into a pushup position with your hands placed directly under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to toe,” says Furr. “Brace your core muscles by pulling your belly button toward your spine. Keep your back flat, avoiding sagging or arching in the lower back.” Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat for three sets.

Workout #5

1. Dumbbell Walking Lunges

“Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand and arms hanging at your sides,” says Furr. “Step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to a 90-degree angle. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle. Push off with your left foot, stepping forward to return your body to the starting position.” Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps per leg.

2. ½ Kneeling Dumbbell Shoulder Press

MacPherson says, “Kneel on your right knee with your left foot planted on the ground, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bring the dumbbells to shoulder height, palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells overhead, fully extending your arms without locking your elbows. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height.” Complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps per side.

3. Barbell or Dumbbell Bent-over Rows

illustration of dumbbell bent-over row

“Hold a barbell or pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing your body,” explains Furr. “Hinge at the hips and bend your knees slightly while keeping your back flat. Pull the weight toward your lower chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.” Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

4. Straight-leg Deadlifts

illustration of single-leg romanian deadlift

“Stand on your right leg with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body. Keep your back flat, hinge at the hips, and lower the dumbbells toward the ground, allowing your left leg to extend straight behind you for balance. Return to the starting position by squeezing your right glute and hamstring,” says Furr. Complete three sets of 12 to 15 reps per leg.

5. Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extensions

“Sit on a chair with a dumbbell held overhead in both hands, arms fully extended,” says Furr. “Lower the dumbbell behind your head by bending your elbows. Keep your upper arms close to your head throughout the movement.” Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

6. Low-intensity Cardio

cycling

“Choose a low-impact exercise like swimming, walking, or biking. Perform the activity at a pace that allows you to maintain a conversation comfortably,” says Furr. Aim for 10 to 15 minutes.

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