It is never too early or late to make exercise a healthy habit in your life! But it is important to be realistic about what exercise can and cannot do for you.

Here are some of the great things that regular exercise can do for you:

  • Keep you trim, help you lose fat and preserve muscle
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve your bone density and reduce your risk of falls and fractures
  • Lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gallstones, and colon cancer
  • Raise self esteem, improve mood and relaxation
  • Decrease migraine headaches
  • Reduce discomfort from arthritis
  • Reverse the natural muscle loss that occurs with aging.

Myths and Facts about Exercise

  • I don’t have time

Only you can decide how to solve this challenge. There may always be an excuse not to exercise, but only you can decide how to make regular exercise part of your healthy lifestyle.

  • No pain, no gain

You don’t have to do vigorous exercise like running to reduce your risk of heart disease. If you do at least moderate aerobic exercise, you still gain the health benefits by walking briskly at a 3 — 4 miles per hour pace, or by doing other activities at a vigorous pace, like gardening, vacuuming.

  • If you can’t exercise regularly, there’s no point.

Not true. Every bit helps. Only twelve weeks of regular exercise improves your fitness measurably on an exercise treadmill, but all exercise improves your blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides levels, even briefly.

  • It’s too late to start.

You’re never too old or too young! Of course, it’s important to start modestly and build up gradually, especially if you have history of medical problems. Ask your doctor. But even if you are healthy, starting slowly is best, to figure out what kind of exercise you like and to learn how to avoid pains and injuries.

  • Exercise makes women too muscular.

No, women lack enough testosterone to “bulk up.”

  • Spot exercising will reduce fat in the area being exercised.

Instead, it will tone the muscle beneath the fat in that region. Only losing weight overall will decrease fat.

  • Exercise burns a lot of calories.

Exercise does burn calories, but you must be cautious not to assume it burns so many that you can abandon careful eating habits. 

  • You burn more calories for a long time after you stop exercising.

Moderate aerobic exercise increases calorie burning for up to 40 minutes afterwards and may slightly increase your resting calorie expenditure.

  • If you don’t lose weight, then exercise is useless.

Not true! See above for all the other benefits.

  • Weight gain is inevitable as you age.

No, only if you don’t reduce calories and stop exercising! Caloric needs decline as you age, especially after age 30. So if you keep eating the same amount without increasing your energy output, you will gain weight.

  • You can’t be fit and fat.

Not true. Fitness is a function of heart and lung endurance, body composition (percent body fat), muscular strength, and flexibility. A person can be fit according to some of these measures and less fit according to other measures.

How much exercise should I do? How hard should I exercise?

Your goal should be at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.

During aerobic exercise, a conservative goal is to increase your heart rate per minute to the number calculated as follows: 70% x (220 – your age). For example, if you are 50 years old, your goal heart rate is 70% x (220 – 50) = 125 beats per minute. It’s OK to split up the exercise into shorter bursts. And if you can’t do it every day, don’t give up! Do it when you can.