It happens to a lot of people. One day, you wake up and your jeans are too tight, you have a muffin top, and that ass that used to be so righteous, high, and tight has now hit the floor.
Panic sets in. How did this happen? You knew you’d grow older, but you thought it would take longer. It seems like only yesterday you could knock off a few beers and a pizza and your body would bounce right back. The truth is, you could get away with a lot more in your twenties than you can now. As we age, it seems like we have to do MORE to stay the same. The unfortunate reality is that the grace period ends at 35 and if you haven’t started exercising yet, it’s time to get your saggy ass in gear. The good news is that even if you start late in life and make only a half-hearted effort, you can reap tremendous rewards.
By now, you’ve heard all the benefits of exercising throughout your lifetime. Exercise improves cholesterol levels, lowers blood sugar, burns body fat, strengthens muscles and bones, improves mood and sleep, and protects against diabetes, dementia, certain cancers, and especially heart attacks and strokes. And it’s true that the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise for most adults. But what you might not realize, is that even a little exercise is better than none.
According to The Washington Post, “20 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise once or twice per week will provide at least some health benefits. And a small study found that even 10 minutes of easy exercise seems to have a positive effect on brain function immediately afterward.” So even if you have limited time and limited desire to exercise, there’s still benefits to be had. A little exercise can lead to more exercise and before you know it, you’ll be able to get those jeans zipped up.
Think you’re too old for exercise? A Harvard Medical School publication suggests otherwise. Low doses of physical activity can improve your health and longevity at any age. Separate decades long studies in Sweden, England, Norway, and the United States concluded that subjects who began a moderate exercise program in their 50s enjoyed as much as a 55% reduced mortality rate than subjects who remained sedentary! Many people assume that they're too out-of-shape, or sick, or tired, or just plain too old to exercise. They're wrong.
So where do you start? Well, of course you can join a gym. And if you have deeper pockets you can hire a personal trainer like me. But engaging in moderate exercise can also be a lot simpler. Get off the couch and try starting with some of the following activities.
- GO FOR A WALK. Or a swim. Ride a bike. Play ball. Jump rope.
- TAKE THE STAIRS. Or garden. Wash your car. Rake your yard. Dance.
- PARK FURTHER AWAY, NOT CLOSER. Instead of circling the parking lot to get as close as possible, take a spot further away.
- EXERCISE AT HOME. Do 20 body weight squats. 10 push ups. 20 walking lunges. 10 dumbbell (milk jug) rows. A 15 second plank. 30 jumping jacks. Sex for an hour. (Yes. That counts as exercise!) Repeat.
Philip Hitchcock is an independent, Certified Personal Trainer specializing in “Fitness after 40,” Resistance Training and Weight Loss. He maintains his own client base and is also the exclusive trainer for the Four Seasons Hotel. Check out HitchcockFitness.com