These Are the Most Dangerous Exercises You Can Do If You’re Over 50

They say that age is just a number. But when it comes to exercise, age can say a lot about what you can and can’t do. Sure, someone may be in peak physical condition well into their 50s. That being said, there are certain workouts that carry a greater chance of injury, and other health issues.

These are the most dangerous exercises you can do if you are over 50.


A group of people do crunches on mats.

You may think you know how to do the perfect crunch, but you might be wrong. | JackF/iStock/Getty Images

Crunches are already one of the toughest exercises out there. (It’s so easy to do them wrong!) To make matters worse, they become more of a health hazard as you get older. The more you age, the more you lose mobility in your spine, so the curling motion of a crunch will put stress on your neck and back — and can cause some serious issues like pinched nerves and muscle pain.

Switch up your ab routine and try planks instead. It will save the strain on your spine.

Next: Boy, you’re (not) gonna carry that weight.


A person picking up weight equipment.

Never attempt new strenuous activities without a trainer present. | Pattonmania/iStock/Getty Images

This exercise delivers double-trouble to the older set — it can cause serious back pain, even if you’ve been doing the exercise for many years! Men’s Health explains that using subpar form is common enough that it’s only a matter of when you will tweak your back doing deadlifts. And since your spine narrows and deteriorates over time, its ability to withstand poor deadlift form decreases.

Play it safe and try a low-back friendly alternative instead.

Next: High intensity puts you at high risk.

High-intensity interval training

A woman doing an ab workout on a mat.

You can stay in shape with the right modifications. |

Yes, HIIT is all the rage right now. But it isn’t for everyone, especially once you’re over the hill. The body’s ability to get dehydrated rises as we get older, making super sweaty HIIT workouts a health hazard. Headaches, a decrease in blood pressure, and even delirium are just a couple side effects associated with dehydration. (The gym is probably one of the last places on earth you want to have a delirious episode.)

If circuit training is your jam, opt for a more low-impact regimen, and make sure you always have plenty of water on hand.

Next: Want to get a leg up on your health? Then avoid this leg exercise!

Leg press

Athletic girl doing the leg press at the gym.

You might need to leave this workout in the past. | Creative-Family/iStock/Getty Images

Knee pain? Hip problems? This tough exercise can make these ailments even worse. The leg press machine is already bad for you since it doesn’t allow your body to perform the exercise in a way that is suitable for your joints. Add to it that joint pain is more prevalent as you get older, and this exercise is a recipe for disaster.

Consider doing low impact lunges with dumbbells as your alternative to the leg press.

Next: Stairway to … pain and a loss of balance.

Running stairs

A woman running up mountain stairs.

What used to be a fun workout might become a painful disaster. | lzf/iStock/Getty Images

Getting your Rocky Balboa on may seem like a premium exercise method. But running up stairs becomes a hazard in your 50s and beyond. Your ability to balance begins to decline at midlife, making the practice of climbing the stairs costly. (Long story short, you’re more likely to lose your footing and take a tumble.) Plus, stairs are tough on the knees.

If climbing stairs is your preferred form of cardio, try the stationary stair-climber at the gym.

Next: The wrong — and right — way to get your “om” on.

Bikram yoga

A Bikram yoga class in session.

A tough workout that gets harder throughout the years. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

To be clear — yoga is great for maintaining your flexibility. However, this steamy, sweaty variety is a bad choice. As we previously mentioned, you get dehydrated more easily as you get older. And the extreme heat in a hot yoga studio is enough to make you sweat to the point of fainting.

Opt for a lower-impact yoga class that will help you maintain your flexibility, without the high temperatures. And of course, always have extra water on hand!

Next: This popular machine is a no-no in your 50s.

Bench press

Weightlifter at a gym in fitness gear.

Your joints might not be able to handle bench presses like they used to. | Ibrakovic/iStock/Getty Images

It doesn’t take much for this exercise to cause you some serious upper-body issues. Like with deadlifts, improper form can make the bench press a very dangerous exercise for your shoulders, wrists, and even your pectoral muscles. As you get older and your joints aren’t able to handle as much weight, your shoulders, in particular, are at great risk of injury from the bench press.

Consider a free weight chest exercise instead.

Next: One of the most dangerous exercises out there — no matter how old you are.

Lateral pull-downs

A man doing a shoulder and chest workout at a gym

Pulling the bar behind your head is a serious don’t. |

The pull-down machine is one of the most commonly misused because people pull the bar down behind their heads. It creates an even bigger threat to the 50-plus club. The pressure that this machine puts on your neck and shoulders becomes even greater as you get older, putting you at risk for rotator cuff tears and pinched nerves. You will be better off doing lateral pull-downs with free weights with your arms angled a bit in-front of you.

Next: You may want to rethink those marathon-style runs.

Long-distance running

Woman runner running on city road.

Your joints and muscles might get tired easily as you age. | lzf/iStock/Getty Images

Cardiovascular exercise is an important piece of everyone’s workout regimen, no matter what age you are. However, running long distance probably shouldn’t be your cardio of choice if you are over 50. Since your aerobic capacity starts to decline as you get older, you likely won’t be able to maintain the same rigorous pace you once could.

You don’t have to stop running altogether — just tailor your run so it is more manageable.

Next: Time to retire that retro aerobics gear.

High-intensity aerobics

An aerobic class full of men and women getting a workout.

This form of fitness might not have the appeal it used to. |

Like with long-distance running, you should beware of intense aerobics classes as you get older. Your aerobic capacity has decreased and your muscles are shrinking, making you more prone to injury in a high-octane class. Plus, your body will get tired more easily, which makes you even more likely to misstep and hurt yourself.

Try a class that has a more low-impact to moderate pace — your body will thank you later.

Next: It’s time to find an alternative to this intense exercise.

Mountain climbers

A woman does mountain climbers on a white floor.

This common warm-up exercise can be tough on your neck. |

Mountain climbers are an all-encompassing abdominal exercise that achieves both cardio and resistance training in one fell swoop. That being said, you should consider an alternative to this exercise if you are over 50. Your decrease in muscle can make it easier to mess up the form of this floor exercise, putting unnecessary strain on your shoulders and wrists. Plus, this isn’t a good exercise for anyone with knee pain. You are better off doing a variety of plank exercises to work your abs.

Next: Your shoulders will thank you for steering clear of this exercise.

Overhead press

A woman working out in a gym with a weight bar.

You can modify all your favorite workouts to prevent long-term injuries. | Gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

This exercise may seem harmless, but it carries some serious concerns. Since your muscles shrink as you get older, the bulk of lifting during the overhead press gets put on your shoulders. Plus, the decrease in back mobility as you get older puts you at higher risk for back injury. Go for doing a shoulder exercise that doesn’t leave you open to so much pain, like shoulder raises.

Next: This exercise will need some adjusting as you get older.

Squats with weights

Man using a kettlebell weight at the gym.

Your knees might not be able to handle heavy weights. |

To be clear, doing low-impact squats is great exercise. But you should err on the side of caution and skip the free weights. The added weight will put unnecessary pressure on your knees, and will set you up for a number of leg injuries. Instead, focus on maintaining proper form and doing a few more reps, instead of adding weight.

Next: This core exercise should come with a warning label.

Trunk twists

Young man doing planks on a blue mat.

You can continue doing steady planks at any age. | Gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

Having a flat stomach into your golden years should not come at the price of your back. Which is why this exercise is a no-go. The loss of back mobility makes the twisting motion in this exercise super dangerous, leaving you open to major back pain that can leave you unable to exercise at all.

Stick to planks and standing ab exercises that take some of the strain off your body.

Next: This popular form of fitness becomes more costly as you get older.


Young boxer wearing red gloves working on punching bag.

A sparring match might be too strenuous for sensitive bones and joints. | Master1305/iStock/Getty Images

This one is a bit controversial, given that boxing is all-around great exercise. And it has been debated for decades now whether age plays a part in boxing ability — whether you are a pro or the average joe. Long story short: If you are over 50, you should consider how high-impact your boxing session is going to be. Consider sticking to the speed bag so you can stay more stationary and mind your balance.

More Articles About: ,

More from vita good