Get Fit At Any Age

Kathy Smith helps you jumpstart your fitness program.

Get Fit At Any Age
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Q: How can I lose weight and keep more from creeping on?
A: The obvious answer is to eat less and get more aerobic exercise so you burn more calories.
WEIGHT TRAIN: The less obvious answer is to change your body composition so you have more muscle and less fat. How? Lift weights. Weight training may not make the numbers on your scale drop (muscle weighs more than fat), but you’ll be more toned and will look thinner. Many women who take up weight training drop several dress sizes.
BUILD MUSCLE: Building muscle helps you reduce your body’s fat stores because muscle tissue burns calories—approximately 35 to 50 calories per day (versus a measly three to five for a pound of fat). Around the age of 30 we start losing about 4 percent of our muscle mass per decade, then at age 50 what I call “the great decline” picks up and the deterioration increases to 10 percent per decade. Yet, there’s no age limit on building muscle through weight training. A Tufts University found that when a group of men and women, ages 56 to 80 spent 12 weeks weight training without changing their diets, they all had beneficial increases in muscle mass and decreases in fat mass.
YOUR PROGRAM: Adopt a weight training routine of eight to ten exercises that hit all the major muscles: biceps (front of arm), triceps (back of arm), shoulders, deltoids (upper back), butt, legs, and calves. Start with one set of 15 reps two times a week, then progress to two sets. If you’re going to use free weights, start with a set of three-, five- and eight-pound weights. You’ll see a difference in six weeks.

Q: I know all the benefits of exercise, but I can’t get motivated. How can I get inspired?
When you feel as though you want to exercise as opposed to feeling as though you have to exercise, you’ll be primed for success. But how do you get to that point?
FOCUS ON A TANGIBLE GOAL: Instead of thinking about the calories burned think about how energetic you’re going to feel afterward. It’s an immediate pay-off.
TRY SOMETHING NEW: If exercise is boring, do something you’ve never done before. Be adventurous. YOUR PROGRAM: Take skating lessons, join a masters swim group (they welcome all levels of swimmers), learn to play golf, take a dance class, pick a destination and ride bikes there with your family, or set your sights on a big hike—that will give you incentive to train for it. Or get to know your city. Pick a neighborhood to explore and walk around it for 30 minutes.

Q: I exercise inconsistently. How can I stay on track?
Throw out the rules. Most people believe you have to exercise hard all the time and be unwavering in your choice of workouts. But we all have moods or times in our lives when we just aren’t up for a hard session. Where you can get into trouble is if, during those down times, you decide not to do anything at all.
TALK TO YOUR BODY: Do what you need to do versus what you’re ‘supposed’ to do. If you take the pressure off yourself, you’ll be less likely to have bouts of inactivity, and by doing just a little something, you won’t lose much of the fitness you’ve already gained. That’s going to make it much easier to get back up to speed when you’re ready to return to your regular routine.
HAVE WORKOUT BUDDIES: I have six workout buddies that help me stay accountable! That way, when one person can’t exercise on a given day, I have five other friends I can call.
YOUR PROGRAM: If you’re not in the mood for your usual run, take a low-key yoga class or just an easy walk through your neighborhood then end with a couple of abdominal exercises on the grass.