Find a workout you enjoy — yoga, running, swimming or...

Find a workout you enjoy — yoga, running, swimming or dancing. Don’t be afraid to start small — just start. Credit: Getty Images/ferrantraite

Keep moving, and mix it up.

That’s a good recipe for warding off arthritis and other maladies as you push past 50 (or 60).

“Try to get at least 2 1⁄2 hours of exercise a week,” said Nicholas Van Der Ahe, a primary care physician in Rockmart, Georgia. “It’s shown to have great benefits for people over 50.”

Activities can include cardio, weightlifting, yoga, dancing, running — make it something you enjoy, he said.

Tammy Sprayberry recently turned 51 and said she’s made a real effort to improve her health in the past five years. She started by hiring a personal trainer.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “So many times you try to join a gym, and you overdo it or get frustrated. But if you find someone who understands where you are fitness-wise it makes a world of difference.”

Sprayberry started with five-pound arm weights. Now she’s up to 30-pound weights.

She wants to assure others who are past age 50 that it’s not too late to begin living a healthier and more active lifestyle. Even if you can’t afford a personal trainer, she said, do little exercises and build from there.

“Start where you can,” she said. “When I started jogging I went to my driveway and jogged to my mailbox and walked back. That’s all I could do. Gradually I added a little more distance. Don’t be afraid to start as slowly as you need to and gradually increase. But start.”

Sprayberry made a little chart to track her exercises. And she kept charting her progress, which came in little increments at first. But it didn’t stay that way.

A couple of years after she began working out, Sprayberry completed a triathlon.

“It was a shorter sprint distance, but it’s still a triathlon,” she said.

“A friend suggested we do that and I said, ‘I can’t do a triathlon. I don’t know how to swim.’ My friend told me to take swimming lessons, so I did. I think I came in next-to-last, but I did it.”

Sprayberry has also lost more than 100 pounds.

“I still eat some things that probably aren’t great for me, and I still have a beer on a Friday night,” she said. “But I also do CrossFit.”

Matt Christiansen is 52 and said he didn’t like how he looked at 48, so he started doing yoga, which he said transformed his body, improving his core and his sense of balance.

And it’s accessible, he said. Almost anyone can do it. You can join a class, get an instructor or do it at home.

He calls yoga the “most rewarding” of workouts. You can quickly see the results in your posture, he said, and — bonus! — “you’re so zen at the end.”

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