The age-old adage is that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This might be why those who don’t exercise or look after their health have no desire to do so when they get older. They might think they are “passed it” or would never be able to keep up. Studies say otherwise.
According to research published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, your body has the same ability to build muscle mass when you’re older as it could when you were younger. Therefore, if you were put off by the idea of getting fit and working on your health in your later years, then here is some good news: there’s no time like the present to start.
Jim Owen is an example of how starting exercise in later life actually works. He outlined his journey to fitness and wellbeing in Just Move! A New Approach to Fitness After 50. Jim worked on Wall Street in a sedentary position and realised at age 70 that it wasn’t doing his health any favours. He started exercising and was able to build muscle mass just like any other younger person.
A research team at the University of Birmingham also looked into later-in-life exercise and how young and older men build muscle mass. They split the study into groups of two people. The first group consisted of people over 60 who, for the last 20 years, had exercised at least twice per week. The second group didn’t have a consistent workout routine.
With a muscle biopsy and isotope tracer drink, researchers were able to determine that both groups had equal muscle building abilities. That essentially means that an 80-year-old man could have the same muscle-building ability as an athlete in his prime.
With this in mind, it’s still important to be aware of any limitations – such as injuries – that you might have. Exercise novices may also like to start slow and build up their strength training to avoid injury.
Here are a few popular exercise options you can do:
- Chair squats – stand in front of your chair with your feet a shoulder’s width apart. Bend your knees with your hips back at the same time, and straighten your arms in front of you for balance. Prepare to sit down, but stand back up as soon as you feel the chair. Repeat this process ten times.
- Bicep curls – stand with your feet apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand – as heavy as you can manage (5-15 pounds). Face your palms outward and curl up your bicep muscle toward your shoulder. Lower it down and keep your elbow still as you curl your dumbbell. Repeat ten times.
- Step-ups – Use the stairs or steps in your home for this one. Step up with one foot onto the step, then down onto the ground. Repeat ten times then swap to your other leg. This exercise strengthens your knee muscles.
It’s never too late to exercise, and all you have now are excuses. Whether you’re 17 or 70, now is an excellent time to get back in the exercise scene, start eating well, and work on your health. Your body will thank you for it.