By Dr. Katrina Wahlstrom |
Steven Pressfield stated in his book The War of Art, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us.” Perhaps you were a person that drove to the field or gym and never got out the car. Or you put off your fitness journey for tomorrow. Starting a sport when you are young can be daunting, but even more so when you are middle aged. You may not feel as quick and nimble as you once were and visiting the gym can feel intimidating. The great thing about fitness is that you can start at any age. Not only that, but you also don’t have to have started being physically active when you were young to reap the health benefits.
As adults age, we tend to gain weight and fat mass while losing fat-free mass, height, and bone. However, the increase in percentage of fat and body weight in adults may be mostly attributed to inactive lifestyle choices rather than the aging process itself. Not only does participating in regular exercise prevent the decline of muscle, strength, and motor performance, but it can at least partially reverse this process once an inactive individual begins exercising.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Do your research on your sport of interest. Check out the physical, mental, equipment and time requirements for your activity. Delve into articles and videos that provide thorough information.
- Partner-up (two is always better than one). If you have a friend that would be interested in trying something new, invite them along.
- Shop around. Talk with the coach and members of the group sport or activity you are interested in. Not all gyms and groups are equal, so choose the right fit for you.
- Try a group for beginners. This will help you gain the basic skills needed to be successful in your sport of choice. Plus many gyms offer a free trial membership.
All adults should strive for the recommended 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on 5 days or more a week or at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity on 3 days of week. Strength training activities should be practiced on at least 2 non-consecutive days per week and focus on training the major muscle groups. Beginning a new sport can aid in meeting or exceeding these recommendations. However, it is also important to be realistic. If you have been inactive for a while, it will take time to learn and build on the skills necessary to be successful in your sport of choice. You don’t have to be an athlete to be successful, you just have to set realistic goals and commit to being active. As you learn you will see improvement, remember that the biggest competition is yourself. The last and most important part of starting a new exercise program or sport is that you should have fun. If you find the activity too difficult, time consuming, or lacks enjoyment, you will not stick with it.
Dr. Katrina Wahlstrom is an accomplished business and education professional with a demonstrated history working in the higher education industry. She is a member of the faculty at the United States Sports Academy. Wahlstrom has worked in higher education as a faculty member, administrator, and advisor at Saint Leo University and American InterContinental University. She also worked as a managing partner in management consulting firm Otavala Consulting in Tampa, Fla.