A natural decrease in muscle mass as you age, as well as decreased level of activity, can lead to excess weight gain and a paunchy stomach. It's possible to lose weight and tighten your stomach after age 50 with a combination of cardiovascular exercise to lose weight and strength training to tighten stomach muscles.
Lose Excess Weight
Engage in cardiovascular exercise for 150 to 300 minutes per week to lose weight all over, including around your midsection. Break up your exercise time to fit your schedule if 30 to 60 minutes of continuous exercise doesn't work for you. Two to three shorter segments spread throughout the day are equally effective in helping you burn calories and lose weight.
Walk briskly for one hour or do yoga to burn approximately 250 calories per hour. Exercise more vigorously by swimming or biking to burn 500 calories per hour. A daily calorie burn of 250 will help you lose 1/2 pound per week, while a daily calorie burn of 500 will help you lose 1 pound every week.
Boost your fat loss and calorie burn by incorporating interval training into your cardiovascular workout. Follow short segments of regular-paced activity with faster-paced activity. For instance, walk briskly for 2 to 4 minutes, and then walk faster or jog for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Continue alternating between intervals for the duration of your workout to boost your ability to lose your midlife excess weight.
Add to your weekly weight loss by following a calorie reduced diet. Reduce your intake by 250 to 500 calories per day to lose another 1/2 to 1 pound per week. Consume at least 1,400 calories per day if you're a man over 50 and 1,200 calories per day if you're a woman over 50 to sustain the energy needed for daily activities and maintain sufficient nutrition.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that contains lean sources of protein, whole grain products, fresh vegetables and fruits, and low- to nonfat dairy products. Avoid foods containing trans fats, as well as beverages and foods sweetened with fructose, as these foods encourage belly fat.
Tighten Your Stomach Muscles
Speak with your doctor before you begin any new weight loss or exercise program.
Give yourself time to obtain a tight stomach after 50. It likely took months or years to gain weight or lose muscle mass. Aim for a slow, steady loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week through diet and cardio exercise, while toning your abdominal muscles with strength training.
Perform exercises that target the abdominal muscles, such as the hundred. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor while raising your straightened arms about 6 inches off the floor. Pump your arms up and down about 6 inches for a total of 100 times while keeping your shoulders and head off the floor. Lower your upper body to the floor. To challenge yourself further, raise your straightened legs off the floor and hold them at a 45-degree angle throughout the exercise.
Tighten and tone your stomach muscles and obliques -- the muscles along your sides -- with seated trunk rotations. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell or medicine ball with both hands. Lean your torso back about 45 degrees while maintaining a straight line from your head to tailbone. Hold the weight out in front of you at chest level. Bring your torso up 20 to 25 degrees while rotating it toward the left. Reach beyond the outside of your left leg with the weight. Return to the starting position to complete one repetition. Aim for eight to 12 repetitions on each side.
Assume the starting position for the bird-dog exercise by getting down on your hands and knees. Draw your abdominal muscles in as if someone is tightening a corset around your midsection. Lift and straighten your left leg behind you while extending your right arm in front of you until both limbs are parallel to the floor. Hold the position for two counts, and then return to the starting position to complete one repetition. Repeat this exercise using the right leg and left arm. Aim for a total of eight to 16 repetitions.
Supplement your stomach-tightening exercises with overall strength training to promote muscle toning. As you build more muscle, your body will burn calories more efficiently, helping you lose fat all over -- including in the stomach area. For your upper body muscles, perform overhead presses, dumbbell flys, bicep curls and triceps extensions. Work the muscles of your lower body with squats, lunges and calf raises.
- American Council on Exercise: Why is the Concept of Spot Reduction Considered a Myth?
- American Council on Exercise: How Can I Get Rid of Belly Fat?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- MayoClinic.com: Rev Up Your Workout with Interval Training
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Common-Sense Strategies to Long-Term Weight Loss
- Harvard Medical School: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- Fitness: Our Top 10 Ab Exercises
- American Council on Exercise: Ab Exercises
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training -- Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Georgia State University: Upper Body Strength Training Exercises
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.