(This is part 4 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)
I hear it all the time. “I’m too old to start exercising now.” “When you get to me my age, you’ll see.” As often as I hear it, I understand these statements to be more like myths than truths. It was once thought that once you reach a certain age all physical work is to stop. Contrary to those myths, you can actually improve your physical well-being in your older adult years even if you’ve never exercised before.
Age vs. Movement
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests adults do at least two-and-a-half to five hours a week of moderate-intensity activity. Not too bad. In addition, focusing on the postural alignment of the body may also help to start feeling better and moving with confidence. Proper postural alignment helps with everything from cardiovascular health to relieving joint pain and arthritis. When we’re young and continuing that habit throughout life it improves our health and decreases the chances of death. But a recent study found the same is true for adults who start exercising later in life. According to the study’s authors, “Although long-term participation in physical activity may be important to lower mortality risk, the present study provides evidence that becoming physically active later in adulthood (40-61 years of age) may provide comparable health benefits.” Other scientific studies have uncovered similar conclusions, including the fact that exercise programs for sedentary middle-aged adults can help to decrease the risk of heart disease Now that you understand that exercise can help you turn around your health at any age, the next step is figuring out what activities you enjoy and will stick with over the long term.
A Change of Heart..and Mind
Starting exercise later in life requires that you find more meaning in why you’re moving. For example, can you transition from standing, down to the floor, and back up again easily? How do you feel when you get out of your car? Do you feel sluggish when you’ve been sitting for a long period of time? Ask yourself these questions and start to reshape your fitness goals to enhance your day-to-day functions in life and the confidence you have in your body. Choose activities that you enjoy, which will make it much easier for you to stick with your exercise routine. Get your family involved by going on a hike or a walk around the neighborhood. Dance with your grandkids in the kitchen, play a game of pickleball with friends or go for a swim at your nearby gym. Willpower will only get you so far, so find a way to make exercise a new routine for your daily life. Reward yourself for exercising so you’re motivated to do it again.
The bottom line: The earlier you start the better, so start today.
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.
See you Monday for Day 5 of the 12 Days of Fitness
Just in case, here’s what you might have missed: