Fitness Back in Your Life
In the good old days before you were married, had kids, got the
promotion, bought the house and did the yard work, you really
regularly. Back then, you could run a five-minute mile. Or bench
press your weight. Or sweat through that 90-minute advanced aerobics
are you spending more time feeling guilty about not working out
than working out?
If so, you're
probably the kind of lapsed boomer President Bush was talking to
when he recently declared war on being fat and sedentary. No wonder
you weren't invited along on that three-mile fun run with him and
But you have
plenty of company. You've joined the 4-in-10 adult Americans of
all ages who admit they are not physically active at all, according
to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
like Richard Cotton and Cedric Bryant have heard it all before --
busy boomers complaining that, between carpools and van pools and
making ends meet, they barely have time for a movie, much less a
regular exercise routine.
Cotton is an
exercise physiologist and also a spokesman for the American Council
on Exercise in San Diego, Calif., an organization that certifies
instructors and oversees exercise research. Bryant is the chief
exercise physiologist for the council.
They both specialize
in motivating inactive people to become involved in exercise programs.
They inspire woefully out-of-shape, middle age lapsed exercisers
or never-exercisers to consider the benefits of incorporating workouts
into their however-hectic-or-sedentary routine, convincing them
that the stress-reduction and disease-risk reduction benefits are
worth the effort.
Here are some
of their best tips.
- Blot out
that "hard body image" memory. It's normal to have
a mental image of yourself when you last exercised regularly,
says Cotton. If your image is from high school, you could be in
big trouble. Even if it was from last year, forget it. "Try
to have as little memory as possible of what you used to look
like and do," Cotton says. "Be in the present."
slowly. "Do much less than you think you are able to,"
Cotton suggests. Take a 10-minute stroll if you're newly back
to workouts. Clients tell Cotton, "It's not enough."
No, he replies, it's not, "but it's a start." Consider
walking as a good way to get back to exercise.
the risks of too much, too fast. "Go too fast and you're
likely to get injured," Bryant says. That could set you back
to square one.
Plan your workout wardrobe so you'll be comfortable. Consider
the weather you will be walking in and decide: long pants, long
sleeves, shorts, hat?
skimp on shoes. A good pair of shoes should cost about $70,
says Cotton, and they'll help ensure good shock absorption and
cushioning. Which type? "If you are walking with the hope
of jogging eventually, buy running shoes," says Cotton. If
you plan to walk as your main exercise, get walking shoes.
overlook good socks. Best for workouts: Socks with some synthetic
fibers (rather than all-cotton) because they wick away sweat better.
When you try on exercise shoes, wear your exercise socks.
your duration of exercise in small increments. "Spend
one week minimum at each phase," Cotton says. Exactly how
long you will walk in each phase will depend on your stamina and
your doctor's advice. But you might begin with as little as a
15- or 20-minute walk, then work up, Cotton says. Add duration
before speed. You can increase the length of the walk each phase,
by perhaps five minutes a phase. Soon, you'll be at the recommended
30 minutes (or more) a day, five or more days a week. "Accept
yourself where you are," Cotton says.
- Do the
talk test. If you can't talk with ease as you walk or jog,
you're going too fast and trying to do too much, Bryant says.
to stay well-hydrated. "The thirst mechanism is less
sensitive by age 50," Bryant says.
- Add strength
training to the cardiovascular routine. But only when you
are ready, Cotton suggests.
getting an exercise buddy. That could help increase your faithfulness
to your new routine. "An exercise buddy is always nice,"
Cotton says, "especially if you can latch on to someone who
already has the habit. That's a free ride."
- Be realistic
about the payoff. You might notice looser waistbands but no
difference on the scale. "As you get up into the 35-, 40-
or 45-minute walks that are brisk, you can expect weight loss,"
Cotton says. "But figure it takes six to eight weeks to transform
your body. And even if you do not lose a pound, you are healthier
if you exercise."
possibly, that might put you higher up on Bush's invite list,
should he host another run.
information on exercise and age-related weight gain, see the
American College of Sports Medicine. For information on
staying fit, see
American Council on Exercise.
Reference Source 101