We all know that exercise is important for overall health and wellness. It strengthens our muscles and bones, improves our mood and mental health, reduces our risk of a myriad of chronic diseases, boosts our energy levels and even helps us sleep more soundly. This is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all U.S. adults aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week.
If we’re being honest, however, fitness isn’t always the easiest thing to fit into your schedule. What’s more: If it’s not an activity that you’ve been doing long-term or consistently, it can be difficult to get back into a solid routine. That’s why many people wind up giving up their exercise routine or losing their momentum with exercise as they get older. Of course, the aches, pains and other ailments that accompany growing older don’t help either.
If you’re looking to get back into exercise, here is some expert advice on why it’s never too late to start an exercise routine and how to best pull it off.
The reality is that all ages benefit from exercise. In fact, physical fitness is one of the keys to longevity. “People who maintain moderate levels of activity, pay attention to a way of eating that maintains a healthy body composition, and keep strong social and family connections (along with being non-smokers and wearing seatbelts) live longer lives and maintain the ability to do the activities they want to do longer in their lifespan,” explains certified nutrition consultant and health and wellness coach Marvin Nixon, M.S., N.B.C.-H.W.C., C.P.T. “When exercise and activity are part of your routine your lifespan and healthspan increase, or how long you remain able to live the life you want in that lifespan.”
You can still build and tone your muscles
No matter your age, you can enjoy the benefits—even if you’ve never worked out before. “Research has shown that, even if you’ve never worked out regularly and are older, you can still build muscle mass like those who have worked out regularly for years,” says Amie Dworecki, BS, MA, MBA, a running coach. “A workout routine that gradually challenges you can help combat the natural 3-8% decrease in muscle mass that happens per decade, which can be a fundamental cause of disability as you get older.”
It can help prevent osteoporosis
One of the most common conditions that crops up as you age is osteoporosis, a bone disease that makes you more prone to fractures. Luckily, exercise can help keep your bones strong by strengthening your muscles so that there’s less stress placed on your actual bones. The best types of exercise to help with osteoporosis are weight-bearing exercises, like walking, jogging, dancing or stair-climbing, and strength training, like weight lifting, push-ups and squats.
You can alter the intensity at any point
Remember that a fitness routine doesn’t have to be overly demanding or fatiguing in order to be effective. “Some may think a new exercise routine means hours in the gym using a program they won’t be able to handle or complete. In truth, you can modify exercises to fit your ability,” says Dworecki. “You can benefit from starting a simple walking routine or another enjoyable activity within your current capabilities.”
It can boost your self-confidence
You might not realize just how much exercise can transform you physically, mentally and emotionally.
“With a new exercise routine, you might start to recognize yourself in the mirror again as you feel firmer and stronger and feel like your best self at any age,” explains Alicia Jones, National Coach of Canada (NCCP), Advanced Sport Nutrition-Certified Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Training Specialist. “All ages are accepted for their beauty and for their specific stage of life—and that includes the older, older adult population for those that do feel lost or invisible.”
Aaptiv has a lot of beginner program options for any one who wants to start a fitness program. To browse over 8,000 classes and programs search for a class in the “Browse” tab, find your new favorite class by searching by workout category, or find a structured program under “programs for you”.
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