Customize Your Fitness
Design an Exercise Program for Where You Are in Life
There are many benefits to exercise at any age. For example, exercising regularly can help you manage your weight and lower your risk for many diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancers and osteoporosis.
- Regular exercise can raise your metabolic rate.
- A higher metabolism means your body is better at burning calories.
- Overall, you’ll burn more calories all the time, even when you’re not working out.
It’s never too late to commit to a regular fitness program. The challenge is making sure you design a program that doesn’t exceed the limitations and challenges of your current age.
You’ve likely heard the standard disclaimer "talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program." That’s good advice no matter how healthy you are right now. But this is especially true if you haven’t been active for a while.
Your doctor may also do a stress test if you have or suspect a heart condition, high blood pressure, diabetes or any other serious ailment. This test helps your doctor find out how much your heart can handle and the kind and level of exercise best for you.
The next step is to measure your current fitness level. Here are some important things you should look at:
- What is your cardiovascular fitness level right now?
- Have you done any strength training on a steady basis?
- How about stretching, yoga or Pilates?
Below are three age ranges and some of the major considerations of any new exercise program.
Up to 35 years old
Form and flexibility are often overlooked during these years. Practicing good form in any sport — whether it be tennis, swimming, running, etc — will help you stay injury-free later in life. Devoting time to stretching, yoga or Pilates will also help. Avoid overtraining by always building rest into your exercise program.
35 – 50 years old
Strength training should be a part of your fitness goals. Do 30 minutes of resistance training at least three times a week. This is most important for women to help prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
50 and up
Even if you haven’t exercised in a long time, you have every reason to start now. The real key is to start slow. Begin any new activity at the simplest level. For example, instead of running, start walking first. Instead of lap swimming, take a water aerobics class first. If you’re unsure about how to start an exercise program, talk to a personal trainer.
No matter what your age, commit to fitness and you will better the quality — and quantity — of your life.
Sources: The American College of Sports Medicine