Late Boomers: A Workout Guide for First Timers
Don't forget the weights. Did we mention strength training already? Well, it's imperative. "Muscle is central to overall health," says Nelson. Ignoring its upkeep can affect cholesterol levels, immunity, bone density, and maybe even sleep and depression, she says. A recent study published in the online journal PLoS ONE suggests that healthy older adults can actually reverse skeletal muscle aging at the genetic levelmeaning it's not just that the muscles look and act younger but are actually genetically similar to much younger tissuewith a six-month resistance training program.
Start slowly. Ever notice how the gym is awfully crowded in January and pretty quiet by March? Those New Year's resolutionists who start out with great enthusiasm often overdo it and burn out or get injured within a few months. Instead, plan slower progress. Nelson likes to prescribe just 15 minutes of physical activity at the outset, three to four times a week, and build from there. And to keep your interest and focus, set goals that will take months, not weeks, to reach, says Scott.
Invest in good advice and good equipment. "I always encourage a good pair of shoes," says Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon and a lifelong advocate on behalf of women and exercise. "You can walk in running shoes, but you really shouldn't run in walking shoes. You don't have to spend $100, but go to a running store where you'll get fitted correctly."
You may also want to pay for a session or two with an athletic trainer or physical therapist to make sure your form is good. "When you start a program, pay special attention to posture and balance," says Coyle. "When you start in your 50s and 60s, much of the challenge is keeping your body balanced and aligned."
Find an exercise buddy. You're much more likely to keep up a routine if you've got company. "Find a partner," says Switzer. "Make a date and keep it."