Most of us have heard the adage that it’s never too late to start exercising and reap the benefits of better health. Is that a myth or a fact? Two recently published investigational studies evaluated more than 315,000 Americans and 15,000 Britons. The studies confirmed the conclusion of past research: Adopting an exercise routine at any age improves your overall health and well-being.
In the American study, researchers were surprised by one of their findings. Participants who increased their physical activity in their 40s, 50s and into their early 60s enjoyed health benefits and a reduced risk of an early death as much as those who had maintained an exercise regimen throughout adulthood.
The British study found similar benefits for people into their late 70s. The researchers also concluded that substantial longevity benefits were gained by becoming more physically active regardless of past inactivity or health conditions, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or obesity.
Ready to get started exercising? The Cleveland Clinic recommends these steps:
See your doctor.
Get a physical exam to assess your current fitness level. Make sure you’re healthy enough to start picking up the pace.
Track your progress.
Use a pedometer or activity tracker to count your steps. Time your workouts with a stopwatch. Keep a journal to show how far you’ve come as you progress.
Begin all workouts with a warm-up and stretching.
Find the right fit.
Figure out what activities you enjoy. Create a balanced routine to include aerobics, strength training and balance exercises.
Evaluate whether your workouts are too little or too much. Take note of your fatigue level and your ability to lift and to walk distances.
Hydrate and eat a balanced diet.
Drink plenty of water every day. Plan meals and snacks that are high in fiber and well-balanced with “good” calories to fuel your body.