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Starting Over at 56
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SharonF posted:
I used to be in great shape when I was 48. 8 years later and I have gained just about all my weight back. What would you recommend so far as an exercise program now that I am older? I want to feel better and look better like I used too.
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
Hi Sharon,

First off, let me tell you that it's never too late to start. There are studies to show men and women in their 90's who get more than 100% stronger in just 10-12 weeks from weight lifting. So, you ought to shoot for 3-5 days of aerobic exercise for 20-30 minutes, and 2-3 days of resistance exercise, 8-10 exercises, 10-15 repetitions, 1-3 sets. You can start very conservatively, even just 5-10 minutes, and build up. The important, and sometimes challenging part, is to just gets tarted. I suggest making a clear and concise plan for the week and writing down what you'll do, when you'll do it, and what time of day. There's not going to be a lot different for a 56 year-old compared with a 48 year-old interms of what exrecises to do. You'll just need to start slowly and build yourself back up. Try not to get frustrated when you first start. If you've been sedentary, your fitness is going to be a lot less than 8 years ago, but you'll get it back.

If you don't belong to a gym, check out exercise tubing for resistance exercise. Tubing is inexpensive and versatile (you can do lots of exercises with them even in a chair) and a great way to get started with resistance exercise. You can start with a set of three for about $20. They come in colors to denote the tension. If you order them make sure to order the strap that allows you to attach the tube to a door (this is essential for many exercises), and if you want to work your legs, ask for leg straps. Here are some vendors that sell them.

www.performbetter.com/catalog/default.asp

www.power-systems.com

And here's a site with great videos http://www.body-mind-strength.com/resistance_tube_exercises/resistance_tube_exercises.html

For aerobic exercise, you can do anything that's convenient. If you're at the gym there are lots of options, and if you don't have any home equipment you can walk. I like the 10-minute out, 10-minute back program. Just like it sounds, you walk out 10 minutes, turn around, and walk back. And you've done your 10 minutes!

And here are some excellent WebMD resources for starting exercise:

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/tc/fitness-overview (This article has superb fitness resources at the end about getting started)

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/questions-to-ask-before-starting-a-fitness-program-topic-overview

The government also does a great job with physical activity resources.

http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/adultguide/default.aspx

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html

As for weight loss, if you're still interested in doing that, then you'll most likely need to reduce your calorie intake. Exercise helps, but typically not enough to cause weight loss. It can, but it's more effective to reduce your calorie intake. You can post your diet-related questions to the Diet Community:

http://exchanges.webmd.com/diet-exchange

And I suggest you check out one of the Diet Clubs based on how much weight you want to lose.

http://exchanges.webmd.com/dieting-club-10-25-lbs-exchange

http://exchanges.webmd.com/dieting-club-25-50-lbs-exchange

http://exchanges.webmd.com/dieting-club-50-100-lbs -
exchange

http://exchanges.webmd.com/dieting-club-100-lbs-exchange

You'll find pretty much everything you need to lose weight on these sites. And of course, feel free to post back to the Fitness and Exercise Community any time you like.

I hope that helps get you started.

Take care, Rich


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Rich is an exercise physiologist and certified diabetes educator. He is director of the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program at St. Lu...More

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