Almost all the people on the pages of SGSC, with a few exceptions, are able to do what they do as a result of having spent a lot of time in physical training and conditioning. Whatever the level of performance they are looking for, it takes time and most of our Silver Grey athletes have put in that time, and as a result they have an enviable fitness level.

But what about people who don't already have that level of fitness but who would like to achieve  it, particularly people of an age for whom achieving fitness might not seem to be a realistic goal? How to start out? What to attempt, and how often? Will the results be worth the effort?


If you feel like that, you are not alone. But the fact is that it is absolutely possible for everyone significantly to improve their fitness, and at any age. Supporting that proposition and answering some of the many questions that people must have, Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, which promotes fitness among older people, has produced a Q&A session a section of which is reproduced below. As mentioned above, you will find answers to many of the concerns that people might have who want to start out on the road to fitness when not having exercised for a long time - or ever. There is advice about the level at which to start out, about equipment, about how much exercise to do, as well as addressing concerns people might have if they have pre-existing health issues.

Here is a selection:-

1. I'm not particularly active, and I haven't exercised in years. Is it safe for me to start now?

Answer:

If you haven't been active for a long time, it's important to start out at a low level of effort and work your way up slowly. Beginning slowly will help you become more fit without straining your body. For example, you may want to start with walking, biking, or swimming at a comfortable pace and then gradually do more, or start strengthening exercises with 1- or 2-pound weights and gradually add heavier weights. You may want to talk with your doctor if you decide to start a vigorous exercise program or significantly increase your physical activity.

2. I have a medical condition (such as arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease). Is it safe for me to exercise?

Answer:

Exercise is safe for almost everyone. In fact, studies show that people with arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease benefit from regular exercise and physical activity. In some cases, exercise actually can improve some of these conditions. You may want to talk with your doctor about how your health condition might affect your ability to be active.

3. Isn't it better for older adults to "take it easy" and save their strength?

Answer:

Regular physical activity is very important to the health and abilities of older people. In fact, studies show that "taking it easy" is risky. For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn't happen just because they've aged. It's usually because they're not active. According to the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health, inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active. Lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.

4. How much physical activity do I need?

 Answer:

The goal is to achieve at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate-intensity endurance activity a week. Being active at least 3 days a week is best, but doing anything is better than doing nothing at all. If you cannot do 150 minutes a week because of a health condition, do as much as your condition allows. Try to do all four types of exercises — endurance, balance, flexibility, and strength. Try to do strength exercises for all of your major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, but don’t do strength exercises of the same muscle group 2 days in a row.

5. How hard should I exercise?

And so on.

There is plenty more, covering a host of topics, and all very inspiring - if you want to read the rest, you can find it here.

On our site we do also have our own training section, with quite a few exercise videos, workout routines and stretches, all with written directions on how to perform them safely, and you can use these in conjunction with the guidelines in the Go4Life Q&A session.

But wherever you do find your exercises - and the web is full of exercise videos - the first and most important thing is to start. And the second and equally most important thing is ... you guessed it ... it's to continue.