No more excuses: Improving fitness is for every age and ability

Posted Jan. 05, 2012, at 2:07 p.m.
metrocreativeconnection.com

Nothing gets in the way of fitness like a good excuse. So, let’s eliminate one of those right now.

I’m too old to get into good shape.

The truth is you might not be as old as you think.

“What’s more important than your actual age is your physiological age,” said Alexis Colvin, assistant professor of sports medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

“You might be 60 on the outside, but on the inside you might be closer to 40. … It’s a mindset.”

You’re never too old to work out and improve your fitness level, Colvin said, as long you approach it wisely.

Kelly Norton, an instructor at Tacoma, Wash.’s Allstar Fitness, says she hears the age excuse quite a bit from new participants in her classes.

“We recently had two people walk into our Shred (high-intensity interval training) and after they looked around and saw how built we were, they walked out,” Norton said. “We didn’t even start the class yet. The truth is our class, like any good fitness class, has three or four levels. Lots of options. Something for everybody.

“We have people in the class who are 50 and 60 years old.”

Norton is an ultra-fit 41, but she calls herself a “walking billboard” for beating back the excuse of age.

“When I was 34-35, I was tired all the time,” said Norton, who weighed 178 pounds and wore size 12 clothing. “I couldn’t keep going like I was 18. I felt like I could barely keep my head above water after 4 p.m. … All around, I was unhealthy and unhappy.”

Norton enjoyed exercise, but figured it was her age and her slowing metabolism that kept her from taking her fitness to the next level. Then she started working as a fitness instructor and “felt an obligation to be what I was preaching.”

So Norton made a point of eating well and lifting weights more often. “I was tired of feeling tired,” Norton said.

Today, Norton isn’t tired. She’s almost 30 pounds lighter, wears a size 6 and radiates energy. And she doesn’t feel too old for anything.

“At 41, you can’t kick me out of the gym,” Norton said.

Starting exercise might sap your energy at first, but if you keep going, you’ll eventually start having more energy, feeling younger and reducing your physiological age.

But just because you feel young, doesn’t mean you should totally ignore your actual age, Colvin said.

Consult your doctor before you start working out, start slow and build gradually, she said.

And if you don’t know what you’re doing, consult a certified personal trainer to make sure you are using good form. Poor form is one of the quickest ways to get hurt.

And don’t let the chiseled 20-somethings in your gym’s fitness classes scare you off. Most instructors will love to have you in their classes, regardless of your age and fitness level.

“We can do high impact or no impact,” Norton said of her Shred fitness classes. “We don’t want them to worry about getting injured or about old injuries. We can find something they can do.”

 

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