Staying fit after 45

September 08, 2000

Staying fit after 45

By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

Staying fit


staff photographer

Exercise tips

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Before starting an exercise program, learn all you can about exercise and fitness.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Consult your doctor if it's been years since you've done anything active; if your family has a history of heart attacks, diabetes or strokes; or if you are taking medications.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Set short-term goals. It's easier to envision losing 3 pounds than 35.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Join an exercise group or exercise with a friend.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Establish an exercise schedule.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If you're just starting out, do short bouts of exercise a few times a day.


HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Warm up before exercising and stretch afterward to prevent muscle stiffness and soreness.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Record your progress in a journal. Keep track of types of exercise performed, amount of weight lifted, number of sets and repetitions completed and how long you exercised.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Fill a glass jar with a coin for every day you exercise. Remove a coin for every missed workout. When the jar is full, use the money to buy something you want as a reward.


Lee Daugherty, owner of Lifetime Fitness Development in Boonsboro;

Donna Printz, owner of Wellness Prescription in Martinsburg, W.Va.;

Douglas B. Lentz, director of fitness and wellness at Results Therapy & Fitness in Chambersburg, Pa.

If you want to feel and look younger, get moving!

"Exercise is the fountain of youth," said Donna Printz, owner of Wellness Prescription in Martinsburg, W.Va., through which she conducts seminars on wellness, fitness and nutrition.


Those 45 and older may experience more aches and pains after exercising than those who are younger, but unless they have medical problems, there's nothing stopping them from getting or staying in shape.

"We probably need exercise more as we age than when we were younger," said Douglas B. Lentz, director of fitness and wellness at Results Therapy & Fitness in Chambersburg, Pa.

Safety first

"The first issue that needs to be thought of is safety," said Lee Daugherty, owner of Lifetime Fitness Development in Boonsboro.

Moderate exercise is safe for most people, but if it's been years since you've done anything physically active, consult your doctor before starting a program, Lentz said. Also, visit your doctor if your family has a history of heart attacks, diabetes or stroke.

Daugherty is particularly concerned about high blood pressure, which he called "the silent killer." Physical exertion may bring to the fore a blood pressure problem a person didn't know existed, he said.

If you are taking any medications - prescription or over-the-counter - ask your doctor if exercise will negatively affect your blood pressure or heart rate, Printz said.

While middle-agers who have been active all along can continue to participate in the sports they've been doing, those who haven't exercised for a while need to take it easy at first.

"If you approach this as a life change, there is no hurry," Daugherty said.

"Start almost too gradually most times," Lentz said. "Be more sensible in your workouts."

While stiffness and soreness may follow a good sweat session, don't give up. The first month is probably the toughest, Daugherty said.

Recovery time varies with a person's fitness level.

"The better shape you're in, the faster your recovery," Printz said.

Getting started

When selecting activities to shape up your life, there's one basic criteria they have to meet.

"Do something you enjoy so you want to do it," Printz said.

The experts agree that strength training is an essential element in fitness and osteoporosis prevention for those who are middle-aged and older.

"Anyone over 35, especially women, should be doing weight training," Printz said.

Training with resistance - whether in the form of dumbbells, soup cans or exercise machines - improves balance, which helps prevent falls. It also strengthens bones and muscles. If a person falls, there's less chance of a break, Daugherty said.

To increase the strength of heart and lungs, try stair stepping, swimming or riding a bicycle - a stationary variety or one meant to take you places. Walking is another fantastic way to stay fit, added Daugherty, a trainer who is certified through International Sports Sciences Association.

Once you've picked your activity, warm up before plunging in.

"I'm a big fan of stretching," Daugherty said.

Daugherty recommends warming up with less-intense exercise, then following the activity with stretching.

Stretching brings fluids and blood into the muscles, counteracting the production of lactic acid, which can cause soreness, Daugherty said.

Keep moving

According to Daugherty, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes or more of moderately intense physical activity on most, if not all, days.

That activity can be broken up throughout the day, but if you're trying to lose weight, increase the intensity, he said.

Lentz said people should incorporate some activity into their lives every day. That doesn't mean just exercising, but mowing the lawn, gardening or grocery shopping.

Dropping the "couch potato syndrome" - taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from the entrance to the mall - can help people lose 10 pounds a year, Printz said.

"Activate your life," Printz said.

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