Advanced research and medicine, access to information and the means for implementing positive lifestyle habits have all led to extended lifespans in most first world countries--life expectancy at birth in the United States in 1900 was 47; that age had jumped to 78 by 2011.
A natural progression of lengthening lifespans has been a more visible presence of older individuals in society, and the tendency to see more senior citizens living out lives that stay vibrant and active well into later years. It’s not as unusual as it once was to see marathoners or weight lifters that are obviously past mid-life...and it’s not a completely radical idea anymore for someone to take up a new fitness pursuit much later in life.
In fact there are a number of reasons to begin working out as a more mature adult--although it’s also more important that you do so under the supervision and advising eye of your doctor.
Benefits to Beginning Exercise as You Age
You can stall the clock. Research on aging and muscle development shows that progressive resistance training in older individuals--if done at a sufficient load and frequency--can counteract the natural decrease in muscle strength and area that naturally occurs with age. You may have to push a little more than your counterparts, with respect to time and attention, but the patience we often develop with age is useful in this area, just like it is in the rest of life. You can also positively affect your risks as an older person for things like osteoporosis, hypertension, Type II diabetes and coronary artery disease, by taking up a strength training regimen.
You can streamline your social life. In addition to positive physical results from regular exercise, studies have shown that it can have a good influence on your mental health as well, by improving the memory and brain function declines associated with age. Strong social bonds are also important for combatting that cognitive slide--you can get a two-for-one-punch by joining a gym, running club, or engaging a personal trainer, and making your fitness pursuit a social one, as well.
You can amp up your fun level. Aging isn’t for sissies. As you get older, you lose friends and family members, either to death or other life events, and feeling your body change can be disconcerting. A new activity that challenges you and puts a new spin on life can make it fun again. It’s never too late to do that.
Whatever your age, if you find yourself inclined to start a new fitness journey...take the first step. Consult your doctor, find an activity that piques your interest...and start a new chapter!