A few days ago, while I was working my way through my usual workout routine at the gym, I noticed a woman in her mid-60s going through her 60-minute orientation.

As she followed the fitness instructor around the gym, trying each exercise and looking completely miserable in her brand new workout outfit, it dawned on me that I would never see her again.

Exercise Over 60 Isn’t About Quick Results

It’s not that the instructor was saying anything wrong. His descriptions were accurate and his disposition was cheery. He definitely knew what he was talking about.

The problem was that he was trying to accomplish too much too quickly. I genuinely felt sorry for this poor woman, who probably hadn’t seen a gym in the last 20 years, being swept around the hall in a flurry of activity. I imagined her waking up the next day, muscles sore and spirit deflated, thinking to herself that exercise over 60 just isn’t worth the trouble.

Having talked to hundreds of people who have embraced exercise over 60, I can say that the number one mistake people make is starting too quickly.

Starting Slow + Constant Improvement = The Key to Exercise Over 60

It doesn’t matter how hard you exercise in your first week, or even month. What matters is establishing a pattern of constant improvement.

If today was my first day back at the gym after a long break, I would probably stretch, do 10 crunches and then hit the shower. The next day, I would do everything that I did on day 1, plus I would ask one of the trainers to show me how to do one set on one of the weight machines. The next day, I would add 2 minutes on the elliptical machine. Well, you get the idea.

I would be careful to learn how to use each machine properly, but, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to learn everything at once. Only after about a month of very slow incremental improvement would I ask one of the instructors to help me create a more structured fitness plan.

It may sound counter-intuitive to say that the key to fitness after 60 is slowing down, but, based on my conversations with other baby boomers, I’m confident that this is the case.

In the beginning, a successful fitness plan is one keeps you coming back. There will be plenty of time to push yourself hard when fitness has become deeply integrated into your life.

Do you love going to the gym? Do you agree that starting slow is one of the best things that you can do when it comes to fitness after 60? Why or why not? What advice would you give to someone in their 50s, 60s and beyond who is trying to get in shape after a long break away from the gym? Please join the conversation.

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Here’s a short video that I recorded about exercise over 50.

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