55 isn't too late to get in shape
Q: At 55, I haven't exercised since high school. How do I start getting into shape?
A: There is no better way to maintain good health in later life than exercise, and it's never too late to start. As you grow older, you lose muscle mass and there's a decline in your metabolic rate, the energy you expend. Aerobic exercise has consistently shown to lead to many health benefits, including weight reduction, lower blood pressure, lessening of chronic pain, and improvement in mood and energy levels. People who are least active now have the most to gain from getting started.
Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor; if you have certain risk factors for heart disease, you may benefit from a stress test to assess cardiac risk. Guidelines encourage 150 minutes, or 2½ hours of aerobic exercise a week, such as walking, swimming, or cycling.
Find an activity that interests you and map out a plan to spend a half hour being active five days a week. Even daily activities - such as gardening, household chores, walking the dog - can help.
Here are some fitness tips to start exercising:
- Seek the help of a fitness expert.
- Look for ways to fit in fitness whenever you can.
- Warm up before exercise and stretch afterward.
- Make proper form a priority.
- Modify moves that cause discomfort.
- Add strength training to your cardio routine.
- Know when it's time to make a change and increase the amount of time or difficulty of your exercise.
Mercy Health System offers a free online heart risk assessment at http://goo.gl/TVxyXi
Dr. Strimel directs cardiology at Mercy Suburban Hospital in East Norriton, 610-292-6520.