Having trouble starting a fitness routine? Here are some tips.

Having trouble starting a fitness routine? Here are some tips.

With all of life’s responsibilities, it can sometimes feel impossible to carve out time for working out. Suddenly you find that the active lifestyle of your 20s is a thing of the past, and you’re now approaching your 40s or 50s and haven’t truly exercised in years.

If you’ve found less and less time to work out and feel like the damage has been done, think again. According to a recent study published in the journal Cardiology, it’s not too late to start.

The study found that increasing physical activity later in adulthood – even after maintaining an inactive lifestyle throughout your 20s and 30s – provides comparable health benefits to those who have been active all their life. These benefits included lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other causes of death.

Those who spend a total of 150 minutes per week doing moderate activity, like gardening or taking a brisk walk, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, like running, swimming or aerobics, can begin to see the payoff.

“I do agree there are great benefits to exercising and starting at any time,” says Dr. Benjamin Abeyta, a sports medicine physician at Aurora Health Care in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. “I also agree that mortality is improved with activity started at any level, but morbidity (all the other things that won’t kill you but make your life harder or miserable) will be much less the earlier you start.”

If it’s been years since you were out on the court or track or field, Abeyta recommends beginning with walking 10 minutes at a time.

“When you find that becomes too easy, you can increase the duration and intensity as you like, but by starting slow, you won’t become overly sore and regret the activity,” he says.

By becoming more physically active, you’ll feel better, be healthier and decrease your likelihood of developing serious health complications as you get older. Abeyta says,

“When one has been more sedentary for a longer time, it’s important to talk to a sports medicine physician or your primary care physician prior to getting started to avoid injuries and decrease risk of complications from medical issues,” he says.

To receive the maximum benefit, you should select a combination of aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening activities. Below are examples to help you get started:

Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Activities

  • Brisk walking (2.5 miles per hour)
  • Recreational swimming
  • Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour on level terrain
  • Doubles tennis
  • Yoga
  • Ballroom or line dancing
  • General yard work or home repair work
  • Classes like water aerobics

Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Activities

  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Singles tennis
  • Vigorous dancing
  • Bicycling faster than 10 miles per hour
  • Jumping rope
  • Heavy yard work that increases your heart rate
  • Hiking uphill
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Classes like step aerobics or kickboxing

Muscle-Strengthening Activities

  • Lifting weights
  • Working with resistance bands
  • Push-ups, pull-ups and planks
  • Carrying heavy loads
  • Heavy gardening

Concerned about your weight? Take our Healthy Weight Assessment to learn whether you’re within an ideal range and how the number may be affecting your life and future.

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Carla Basiliere

Carla Basiliere, health enews contributor, is a seasoned communications professional with over 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Carla has a BS degree in Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota Mankato. In her free time, Carla enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends.