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How to get fit after 50: Evidence-based tips

Combining the power of a medical discovery with evidence-based exercises to create a powerful tool for your brain health.

Which types of physical activity are best for brain health?
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Sticking to a fitness routine doesn’t have to be hard work!

Whether your exercise of choice is walking, swimming or any type of cardio exercise, there are certain tools and tactics that you can use to make the process much easier.

One of these tools was considered a phenomenal medical discovery that took over hospitals in 2004 - a discovery that saved 1500 lives and £62 million in expenses.

It all came down to behavioural science. Today, we’ll show you how to use this same discovery to improve your brain, body, and overall health.

Because at the end of the day,
it’s not just about being better for ourselves but also for those around us. 

A powerful tool for your exercise routine

One Halloween night in San Francisco, a man came into the emergency room with a minor stab wound. 

Doctors examined the patient and everything seemed normal at first. However, the patient’s heart rate shot up seemingly out of nowhere and his blood pressure crashed. The doctors and nurses couldn’t tell what was wrong and urgently rushed him to surgery. 

It turned out that the stab wound went much deeper than anybody had initially realised: what had appeared to be a small knife cut was, in fact, an extensive puncture caused by a bayonet from the costume party that he had been attending.

Enquiring about the weapon used is usually considered routine practice in stabbing cases, but this one time, it was totally missed.

Even the best surgeons, pilots and athletes in the world make mistakes, which is why surgeon and public health researcher, Atul Gawande, wrote a best-selling book on the astonishing power of using simple checklists to avoid basic errors. 

The checklist was the same medical discovery that was implemented in hospitals in 2004, which reduced 66% of infections within the first three months.

A checklist might seem rudimentary, but it’s one of the most powerful free tools at your disposal. We’ll be using this exact same tactic, harnessed by world-class specialists, to kick off your fitness journey.

Evidence-backed exercises

Together, we’re going to build a weekly checklist that is not only easy to stick to but actually fun to do!

In our last article, you committed to just one minute of walking. But walking isn’t the only exercise that strengthens the brain and reduces your dementia risk

Let’s review a few more science-based options that we will pick and choose from to fill up our checklist.


1) Walking or jogging:

Research has shown walking just three times a week can result in a stronger brain. 

2) Cycling:

One study, which asked adults to do some form of cycling three times a week over eight months, found these adults performed better on cognitive tests than controls. 

Intriguingly, the same cognitive benefits were seen by researchers regardless of whether the participants used a manual bike vs an e-bike (which is power-assisted).

E-bikes are now available for hourly hire in some UK cities, which is worth exploring if a bike isn’t available to you.

Alternative: If you don’t have a bike or if you have any type of mobility impairment,
you can get the same benefits from a stationary bike at your local gym.

3) Swimming:

Scientists who tested participants before and after swimming found immediate benefits on cognitive performance.

Side note: If you have any form of lower body impairment that makes walking or cycling difficult, using a pool for exercise is phenomenal, as the water carries all your weight.

Consider joining an aqua aerobics class to get started on the basic movements.

Exercise frequency and intensity

The WHO and NHS recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise per week at a relatively moderate effort level. A moderate effort is where you can speak in complete sentences but not sing. 

This comes to around 30 minutes a day, five days a week.  

However, if you are not currently exercising at least 2 hours a week,  we don’t recommend diving directly into that full recommendation. 

Instead, keep working along with the Five Lives Digital Coach, where we’ll take you through how to slowly, easily and safely progress from where you are now to a fitter, healthier you who is following the science-backed recommendations that will protect your brain long term.




Your goal:

Make a list of the cardio exercises that you want to do in a week and put them on a checklist.

The goal is to build a daily habit and a sense of identity around being the type of person who is intentionally active every single day.

At the end of the week, count your ticks and write the tally at the bottom.


  • If you make one tick, that is entirely okay! Next week, aim for two.


  • If you make three ticks, brilliant! Next week aim to beat your score and get four.


  • If you made all five ticks, you deserve a huge congratulations! Next week, strive to maintain your streak and see if you can get five ticks two weeks in a row.


And that is how you get fit after 50. 

Use exercise to improve your brain health and download our app today!  

Our app is designed to help you check your brain health and improve vital lifestyle factors such as your physical activity level. 

Our app guides you step by step in all things physical activity, exercise and fitness related to ensure that you’re doing the most for your brain, yourself and your loved ones. 

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