It's never to late: 7 great reasons to start exercising

October 2, 2015

Forget surgery to combat age: just exercise

Not exercising nearly doubles your risk of a heart attack, says Robert Nied, MD, a sports medicine specialist in California. Even if you hated gym class and never exercised before, it's not too late to start. Dr. Nied notes, "People who go from no exercise to some exercise receive the biggest benefits."


Adding some strength-training moves can have big benefits, too, he says. "Muscle strength declines by 15 percent per decade after age 50 and by 30 percent per decade after age 70," he notes. "However, resistance training can result in 25 to 100 percent strength gains or more."

On aging

"We don't place enough importance on the power of physical activity to keep older people healthy, active, and independent," says geriatrician Sonia Sehgal, MD, an assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of California, Irvine.

Consistency outweighs rigor

"There are so many wonderful benefits. And it's good to know that you don't have to sweat through a long, tough workout or run a marathon or hit the gym at 5 a.m. to get them. The kind of physical activity that really helps is whatever kind you enjoy and that you can do consistently — whether it's swimming, working in the garden, walking with friends, taking an easy exercise class or trying something new like tai chi or yoga.

Even in short durations: something is better than nothing 

You don't even have to do it for long periods of time. Getting 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes in the evening is all you need."Forget the outmoded, macho adage "no pain, no gain." Sticking with a moderate, doable routine will give you the most anti-aging benefits.

Immunity and defense 

Like a flu vaccine that switches on your body's natural defenses, exercise actually works by unleashing a helpful amount of free radicals in your body. They're produced naturally by little energy-generating "machines" in your cells called mitochondria. Your body responds to this surge by pumping out more antioxidants and enzymes to mop up these villains. But if you exercise to the point of exhaustion, the burst of free radicals simply overwhelms your defenses. (That's one reason long-distance runners often get sick after a big race.)

Want to supercharge the benefits of your newfound fitness? Make it an everyday habit, like brushing your teeth or taking your multivitamin.


"When exercise is repeated regularly, the body promptly adjusts so that oxidative stress is eliminated or reduced," notes Sandra T. Davidge, PhD, of the University of Michigan.

Exercise fights aging

"A regular exercise habit seems to have an antioxidant effect."Perhaps that's why the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reports that exercise can dramatically age-proof your body:

While nonexercisers see a one to two percent decline per year in all sorts of body functions after age 30, exercisers reduced that decline by 75 percent.

"At 90 years old, a nonexerciser will have lost 70 percent of his or her functional ability, while an exerciser will have lost only 30 percent of functional ability — retaining 70 percent of his strength!" the ASCM notes.

It's never to late: 7 great reasons to start exercising

7 reasons to get up right now

No time, no inclination to get moving? With benefits like these, you can't afford not to.

Getting 20 to 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week offers these amazing rewards:

  1. 1.5 kilograms (3 pounds) --the amount of sleek, energizing, calorie-burning muscle you'll build
  2. 7 percent--the resulting boost in your metabolism
  3. 25 percent--the improvement in your body's ability to process blood sugar
  4. 1 to 3 percent--the increase in your bone density
  5. 55 percent--the improvement in your digestion
  6. 40 percent--the drop in your risk of dying in the next eight years
  7. 60 percent--the reduction in your risk of getting Alzheimer's

These are 7 great reasons to go for a walk right now!  I bid you farewell.

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