Question: I'm a 65-year-old, out-of-shape male. I've been basically sedentary all my life. Is it too late for me to start exercising?
no matter your age
Answer: It's never too late, as long as you're careful and you have your doctor's permission. By utilizing appropriate exercise techniques, even people in their 80s and 90s can benefit from regular exercise.
If you exercise, it is no longer a given that old age and weakness go hand in hand. Muscles generally shrink with age, but exercise greatly slows this process. Indeed, in a previously sedentary individual of any age, proper exercise will increase muscle mass, enhance flexibility, build bone strength, help reduce body fat, increase a person's energy level, elevate HDLs (good cholesterol), lower blood pressure, strengthen the heart and improve self esteem.
With regular exercise, a person has more energy for everyday activities. Physical exercise is a must if you want to maintain an active lifestyle as you age.
Before you start an exercise program, have a complete physical and get an OK from your doctor. I also recommend seeking out an exercise professional to get you started.
Q: I have been diagnosed with the beginnings of chondromalacia. Is it safe for me to use a stair climber?
A: Climbing stairs puts stress on the knees, which may aggravate certain problems. I recommend exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knees -- such as leg extensions done on a machine -- before you start a stair-climbing program.
The potential for knee problems, however, can be greatly minimized by using a machine with independent stepping action. The two steps, in other words, would operate independently of each other.
With a dependent stepping system, the action of one step causes the opposite reaction in the other, which can be a lot harder on the knee joints.
In addition, be sure you work out in shoes with sufficient cushioning, as this will further cut down on knee stress.
Q: I'm a 53-year-old male. Am I at risk for osteoporosis? I know that older women are, but I haven't heard anything about osteoporosis and the older man.
A: Women are far more concerned about osteoporosis, because they are four times as likely as men to develop this disease later in life.
Even so, about five million men in the U.S. have osteoporosis. To make sure you don't join that statistic, get plenty of calcium in your diet. Men ages 25 to 65 should be getting 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Men over 65 should take in 1,500 milligrams per day. This requirement can be met through diet alone, or through diet and supplements.
Every male or female, younger or older, should be participating in some kind of resistance exercise three or four times a week. Resistance training helps to maintain and even rebuild bone mass.
Other steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis:
Limit your intake of red meat to three or four ounces, three or four times per month.These dietary changes, coupled with regular weight resistance exercise, should be enough to keep your bones strong and healthy for a lifetime.
Eliminate soda from your diet. But if you can't do that, limit soda to no more than two or three servings, at most, per month.
Stop smoking, period.
Restrict alcohol consumption.
Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.