I often meet women my age who have never exercised or who haven’t exercising consistently in years. Unfortunately many of them feel that they are too old to start or embarrassed about joining a class or a gym.
You are never too old to start
I teach exercise classes for people with chronic conditions. Most of the participants in these classes are in midlife and beyond. And many of them have not exercised before they take these classes. I’ve seen women in their 80’s start exercising and get results.
The right time is now
You probably don’t want to wait until you are 80 and suffering from several chronic diseases to start exercising. Now is the time to start so your later years are more enjoyable, and not plagued by health issues. Exercise doesn’t cure everything, but it has been shown to be as effective as medication for several conditions.
If you have menopause symptoms, exercise can help to reduce some of them. Getting stronger and more fit also helps you to maintain your independence well into old age.
Is it safe for you to exercise?
If you have had little experience with exercise, you may want to check with your physician before you start an exercise program. You can also fill out the Get Active Questionnaire to determine if you should exercise, and if it is better for you to exercise with supervision.
For most people it is safe to exercise. There are some risks associated with exercise, but the risks of not exercising are usually greater. Start slowly, so it seems almost too easy. You are less likely to get injured and more likely to keep going.
Walking is a great place to start.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking a class or going to the gym, try walking. Start slowly and build up. You will build your fitness level. Walking has many benefits as a form of exercise: it can be done almost anywhere, it helps to reduce stress and it strengthens bones. Best of all a daily walk can become a jumping off point to healthier lifestyle.
Join a class
Exercise classes can be an enjoyable way of getting exercise. Many are aimed at beginners. You can find dance inspired classes, boot camp style classes, yoga and resistance training classes. Some of these may be advanced, but you can often go at your own pace and use easier options. You might want to look for classes that are called beginner, gentle or introduction.
Some older adult classes start at age 55, so these are an option if you think you’re not ready for senior’s classes. You might enjoy being one of the youngest in a class. Don’t expect to be the fittest though.
If you have a chronic condition, you might find an exercise class specifically for that condition. You would expect to find a highly trained fitness professional teaching this class. One example might be a class for people with osteoporosis.
Workout with a friend
If you have a friend who is also wanting to start exercise, you can motivate each other. People are more successful when they have support from a friend or loved one. When you really don’t feel like getting out for a walk, you’ll know that you will be letting your friend down if you don’t.
You can join a class together, work out together at the gym or go for walks together. And on that topic…
Join a gym or fitness club
This is good solution for many women. It lets you try a variety of equipment, get instruction from trained exercise professionals and meet friends to work out with. You can usually find a variety of cardio equipment, strength training equipment and even some classes.
Try to find a gym that meets your needs – it should be close to home or work, and have a feel that you like. See if you can get a free pass to check it out a couple of times before you commit. Speaking of commitments, read the fine print before signing any contracts.
Workout at home
If you want to take advantage of the benefits of weight training without joining a gym, you can workout at home. You can do a lot of exercises with body weight, but having a little bit of equipment helps.
If you are an absolute beginner when it comes to weight training, I would recommend getting some help from a personal trainer to start. They will make sure you are using correct form and make sure you are using the best exercises for you.
Online personal training is also an option for those wanting to exercise at home. You can get workouts, exercise monitoring and accountability for a fraction of the cost of an in person personal trainer.
Cardio can be done at home as well. Walking, cycling or running outside is much more enjoyable than using a machine at a gym. If the weather keeps you indoors, many women enjoy mall walking. Climbing stairs is also an option for a home workout.
I hope this gives you some ideas for starting exercise in midlife. You can download a free exercise program here.