Yesterday, I was stopped in my tracks by an article in the national news with the headline: “Average person feels too OLD to workout at 41”. Surprising? Disturbing? In this survey of 2,000 adults, most pegged 41 years old as the age when one becomes too old to work out regularly.
I read this article with fascination. I had just been thinking about this subject, but in an entirely different way. After a recent trip to Australia, I got knocked down by an unusually severe cold-like virus. Though my illness lasted about two weeks, I was unable to exercise for almost three. This is by far the longest period I’ve gone without exercise in more than a decade.
The week between being “recovered” from the illness and my body feeling back to normal was filled with fear of triggering a relapse. It was also filled with pain. Even though I wasn’t sick, my body felt awful: my back hurt, my knees ached, I was stiff all over and it was difficult to move. For the first time ever, I felt every day of my 44 years—perhaps older.
I’ve spent my career preaching the virtues of exercise and stringently adhering to a daily exercise routine. I was shocked at just how much exercise keeps me feeling young and healthy. Most of us know how important exercise is to health but we must not forget how young it makes us feel.
Our bodies are meant to move. Movement and exercise are the best medicine for a wide range of ailments that start to creep in as we get older. But exercise and movement aren’t just about numbers on a chart – your pulse, blood pressure, weight, speed, endurance. They also make us feel great. If you are over 30 and are starting to feel aches and pains, it can be so easy to think that exercise and movement will make those aches and pains worse. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Like most things that are good for us, exercise can be tough in the beginning—especially if you have never done it before or if it’s been a while. The first days or weeks will be very challenging, they might even be painful, but it does get easier. You find your groove. Your body will flood with endorphins—the chemical released by your brain that triggers positive feelings and boosts your mood. Within just a couple of months, exercise will feel good—and you’ll feel years to decades younger.
To minimize the risk of injury, start with a safe exercise plan that factors in your starting fitness level and builds slowly and safely over time. Don’t give up in those crucial first weeks. Make it through, make it a habit, and your life will be forever changed.
Dr. Jeremy James founded and was director of the Aspen Club Back Institute in Aspen, Colorado, is the coauthor of the bestselling The Younger Next Year Back Book and earned his Doctor of Chiropractic from the University of Western States. Learn more about Dr. James here.