The author (left) with owners of her favorite fitness studio, Cycology Fitness
Reengaging with an active lifestyle when you're over 50 — and haven't been consistently active in a couple of decades — is not the easiest thing. One day you look up and the person in the mirror is the person you swore you'd never be . . . an inactive couch potato with a penchant for desserts and Netflix.
I don't think it was any one thing in particular that motivated me to take the first step back to a healthier regimen, but rather a sense of foreboding that it was time to kick it into gear or suffer the consequences. Out of shape as I was, I started by walking a couple of mornings a week. I met my friend Laura at some ungodly hour (5:30 a.m.) to walk just one mile and — athlete that she is — she encouraged me to keep at it and go further. Eventually, I was able to walk a half marathon.
Next, friends got me to add hiking to my workout routine a couple of times a month. The uphill climbs required strength and the descents required control, which worked different muscles than walking had and added to my overall physical conditioning.
Despite walking and hiking, however, negative test results at an annual physical pushed me to add more cardio and be more consistent with my exercise routine. I joined a running group, In Motion Fit, and I ran for the first time in 30 years using the Galloway method, which vastly improved my overall health.
But a broken ankle was by far the most significant driver of a more varied workout schedule. On New Year's Day in 2016, I was on my way to work out — you know, to be healthier — and I fell off a one-inch step (yes, one inch). I suffered a spiral fracture to my fibula and sprained the other ankle, landing myself in a cast and boot, followed by four months of physical therapy.
During physical therapy for the ankle, it became apparent that I had serious balance issues. Some of that was to be expected post-bone break, but my rehab took longer because I had no core strength, and core strength is what helps one balance, lift, carry, and all-around function daily. Enter cross and strength training that helps round out my weekly exercise.
Weekly Workout Schedule
- Monday: Typically my recovery day. Occasionally I'll do a walk on the beach or a hike.
- Tuesday: Run — four-mile run with my run club, In Motion Fit (sometimes in Balboa Park in San Diego, CA, sometimes around Mission Bay).
- Wednesday: Strengthening class — either beginner yoga flow at Mantra Yoga, Megaformer at BodyRok, or reformer Pilates.
- Thursday: Cardio — a 45-minute Spin class at Cycology Encinitas.
- Friday: Rest day (does running toward the weekend count?).
- Saturday: Run — long-distance run (six to 12 miles) with In Motion Fit.
- Sunday: LISS — either a hill walk (three or four miles), hike (three to seven miles), or yoga.
Depending on the time of year or what friends invite me to do, I mix in stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming, outdoor cycling, boxing (just once so far, but it was an unexpected blast!), line-dancing lessons, and Tone It Up Daily Moves.
Walking and hiking made me feel more energetic and more willing to join social activities involving exercise, something I'd previously avoided. Adding running actually moved the needle on my overall health by lowering blood sugar levels and strengthening bones. Bringing in core and resistance training has made me feel stronger and therefore less vulnerable. Something as simple as the Tone It Up Daily Moves made my arms stronger, which made activities like kayaking and boxing much more fun and enjoyable.
We all have different motivations for getting into shape: it's the start of a new year, or a health issue, or we want to be social with friends who do work out. Whatever the reason, don't hesitate any longer . . . just take that first step and keep it going!