For many of us, “exercise” sounds like an odious task. It’s something we put behind us in high school, after completing our physical education requirements, and we haven’t thought about it since. A walk to the mailbox or a few laps around a shopping mall in December are about all the exercise we ever contemplate these days.
So, if you’ve reached your thirties, forties, or fifties without setting foot in a gym in decades, you might assume that you’re just not the “type” to exercise. But it’s actually never too late to get started, and research backs up that idea with hard facts.
In one recent study (published in the journal, Circulation), researchers followed a group of 61 middle-aged, sedentary volunteers for a period of two years. They found that those who began exercising during that time saw an 18 percent improvement in maximum oxygen intake during exercise. This group also experienced an increase in the elasticity of the left ventricle of their hearts, of more than 25 percent. This is the chamber of the heart that pumpls oxygen-rich blood into the body, and can stiffen (which is very dangerous) with age.
In other words, even though these previously-sedentary folks didn’t start exercising until middle age, they still reaped fantastic benefits and probably turned back the clock on their hearts’ aging.
We know that sedentary behavior increases the risk of heart disease, while conversely, exercise can decrease risk. So, how much exercise is enough to reap the benefits? At least four times per week, with each of those sessions lasting at least 30 minutes, is ideal.
Of course, if you’ve lived a sedentary life for several years now, we know that this goal can seem daunting. It’s okay to start off with just two exercise sessions per week, and then work your way up to your goal.
Before you get started, come see us. We can screen you for underlying disorders to ensure your plans are safe, offer weight loss help if that topic also concerns you, and help you put together a nutritional plan to support your goals.