“It’s never too late” is a common cliché, but it isn’t quite true. Especially when it comes to exercise.
Is it ever too late to start exercising? That’s the question I am going to discuss.
Perhaps the first question to answer is, “Why exercise at all?” I could list references for what I am about to say, but they would fill this page. Indeed, they would fill this magazine, and then some.
The data is irrefutable. If there is one thing that rises above all–a true magic bullet if you will–it is that exercise improves your chances of a long, healthy, happy life.
Simply put, exercise benefits everything. Weight loss? Blood pressure? Risk of heart attack and stroke? Mood? Depression and anxiety? Stress? Sleep? Memory and intellect? All benefit from a program of regular exercise. And I could go on and on.
So how much exercise should you do? Studies support a minimum of 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week.
What constitutes moderate? That’s when you can still speak in complete sentences while exercising. Examples: walking at 3 mph, bicycling at less than 10 mph, and playing doubles tennis. Vigorous exercise would be anything where you cannot say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
What type of exercise should you do? What you do is not as important as just doing something. Moving is better than not moving.
That said, it is best to exercise in a way that provides benefits to cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility. A good example would be to combine walking, jogging, or cycling with gym workouts that include resistance or weight work and stretching. Variety also makes exercise more interesting and enjoyable.
Now back to when to start. Unless you have one foot in the grave or are in such extremis that any exertion poses a serious threat, you can start an exercise program and derive benefits from it right now.
Many successful older athletes who function at a high level credit starting an exercise routine late in life. So, check with your doctor and get started!