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It is never too late in life to start some sort of exercise program. But first, each person needs to assess his or her overall situation: age, handicaps, if any, goals, motivation and medical clearance. This entails follow-up support by one's physician who knows the medical history, current medical condition, medications, and an awareness of the type of exercise program being considered. Then one will have what amounts to an exercise "prescription".
There are really two types of exercise programs: "aerobic" and "non aerobic". The one I prefer for overall fitness would be the aerobic type. Simply stated, it relates to building endurance. The non aerobic points to increasing muscle mass or strength. Nevertheless, if time and inclination permit, one certainly could consider adding toning up or muscle-building exercises (nautilus, weights) a few days a week to the program. However, concentrating on the aerobic aspect, I suggest a commmitment of 1/2 hour daily, 7 days a week. For many beginners, walking briskly is a good way to start. There are two ultimate goals: a distance of 2 miles and a condition of being "pleasantly out of breath" at the end. (This is not a pace found in bird watching or walking the dog). If you are no longer out of breath after a period of time, "Congratulations!" You are getting better conditioned. At this point, consider jogging 10 yards and walking 100 yards. Rarely do those in mid-life get beyond jogging 30-40 yards while still walking 100 yards. If a treadmill is chosen as the means of exercise, the beginner may require several pauses during the 1/2 hour workout. I prefer the non electric treadmill; it is less expensive and one has control over the machine rather than the reverse. For the advanced exerciser, theis is not a major consideration. It is usually advisable to watch a show on TV, listen to music or have some other source of diversion to keep one's sanity. Use "jogging shoes" when doing the above types of workout as they offer a better cushion for one's feet, knees, back and hips. There are a number of advantages using a treadmill. Weather is not an obstacle; in addition, the problems of "too many cars", "not enough cars," "a mean dog", "not looking the greatest in my exercise outfit," etc., are obviated. In addition mothers at home with young children often can exercise without needing baby-sitters. There obviously are other machines to consider for indoor use, e.g., rowing machines and exercycles. If one is able to workout outside the home, I like to suggest that 6 miles on a bicycle would be about the equivalent to walking 2 miles. Also outside of the home, other options are available, e.g., tennis, squash, skating, etc. In addition, there are new state of the art "wellness centers" that offer a host of exercise choices as well as instructor, a popular one being step aerobic classes, incorporating peppy music with a a class of like minded fitness friends.
As mentioned above, although non aerobic exercises are helpful in building muscle tone, there appear to be more cardiovascular bonuses found among runners, for example, than weightlifters, and convenience as well as time are always issues in this frenetic world.
After being given the OK by your physician, aerobic (exercise that helps build endurance, wind-building rather than only walking from one room to another) offers a host of advantages that even the insurance companies, employers, and most importantly, yourself will be amzed to experience. In my view it is the single most important lifestyle habit anyone can do to reach and then maintain a healthy body. It will also aid in achieving a healthier bank deposit as the need for expensive medication will usually decrease.
Next time I would like to mention the many cardiovascular benefits you will obtain from your exercise program-a lecture frequently given to the medical students. In the meantime, get your medical clearance, motivation, and equipment together.
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