Our bodies are built for physical activity. Movement and regular ex- ertion can trigger healthful changes in almost every cell type, tissue and organ system. Going without exercise contributes to a long list
of health problems, especially during and after middle age. Yet most adults don’t get the minimum amount of aerobic exercise recommend- ed by health and fitness experts and government guidelines. They suggest the equivilent of 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking or 15 minutes of more vigorous exercise, such as jogging or swimming, five days a week as well as two sessions of strength training to build muscle.
One reason we don’t exercise might be we feel it is a daunting task, especially if you are older or have chronic health conditions. Here are some easy steps to help get you started.
Excuse # 1 – I NEVER HAVE ENOUGH TIME
Slightly more than half of the unsuccessful exercisers surveyed blamed lack of time for preventing them from exercising. Successful exercisers, on the other hand, make exercise a priority.
An easy way to begin is by making everyday routines more physically challenging. For instance, try walk- ing to work or the grocery store, even if it is part way. If that is too much, try moving your parking space farther away from your destination. How about one flight of stairs instead of an elevator to the top ?
A few bouts of moderate exercise can be as beneficial as one LOOOOONG one ! So without having to take out time for 30 minutes on the treadmill or exercise bike, you can get a similar benefit from walking 10 min- utes before and after work, or to and from the grocery store. If want to join a gym for motivation, join one close to your home or workplace to minimize travel time. You can even try to set something up at home with a few light weights, thera-bands and DVDs.
Excuse # 2 – I’M TOO OLD TO START NOW
Really, if someone told you, you were too old to do something you wanted to do, they had probably better duck! (Hey, that’s called a right jab and guess what? It’s exercise!) It is never too late to start ANYTHING, including achieving aerobic fitness or gaining more muscle strength. Studies show that inactive men who started exercising as late as age 50 achieved survival rates comparable to men who had been active
for much longer. No matter how old you are, or what gender, your muscles will respond quickly to train- ing. Both men and women in their 80s and older who started resistence training in clinical studies gained strength as rapidly as younger adults.
Even for moderate physical activity, if you have been sedentary for awhile, you should consult your physi- cian.
Excuse # 3 – MY HEALTH ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH
Now, that’s just crazy talk! Exercise is a proven treatment for diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, peripheral vascular disease and other problems that may be common to aging. Many frail, chronically ill people and their caregivers assume incorrectly that exercise isn’t safe. But only a handful of health problems make exercise out of the question, such as retinal detachments, spinal instability, recent heart attack and extremely advanced heart failure.