But Really…Every Day?

The July Project: Day 18

In 2008, I attended a lecture by Dr. Henry Lodge, one of the authors of Younger Next Year, a book that purports to offer ideas to help men fend off some of the physical symptoms of aging. The central theme of Dr. Lodge’s talk was a point that might seem counterintuitive: that we need more exercise as we get older, not less.

In the question-and-answer session that followed his presentation, someone asked Dr. Lodge, “So how much exercise is the right amount?” He replied that although no one has nailed down a precise, scientific answer to that question, a good rule of thumb might be four days a week in your 40s, five days a week in your 50s, and six days a week from your 60s on.

I was already exercising nearly every day before I heard Dr. Lodge speak. I didn’t need persuasion to keep doing what I was doing, but it was a pick‑me‑up to hear that I was exceeding his recommendations. From all that he had to say—and all that I’d heard elsewhere—about the benefits of exercise for managing arthritis pain, high blood pressure, lipid levels, bone loss, and other effects of aging, I suspected that he wouldn’t have tried to talk me into cutting back to four days a week, my tender age notwithstanding.

Today I joked to a friend that I exercise every day because I lack the discipline to take a day off. But I was only half-joking. The truth is, the last time I went a couple of days without exercise, I felt miserable, mopey, and disappointed in myself, and it took an unusual amount of effort to get my lazy butt back to the park the next day. For me, the rigid simplicity of the “Do something every day” rule is the source of its power.

I’m not trying to talk anyone else into exercising every day. It works for me because I get a psychological boost—and maybe a physical one as well—from the continuity and the sense of momentum. But I encourage everyone to devote time and attention to finding a routine that works for you. Challenge yourself. Try to figure out how much is too much. If you’re managing three days a week, experiment with taking it to four for a few weeks. Pay attention to how you feel, and keep notes about what works and what doesn’t.

And tell us what you’re up to in the comments section here!

2 comments to But Really…Every Day?

  • Anne

    Just thought I would mention that there is also an edition called Younger Next Year for Women. From the Amazon description—“Just as the average woman lives longer (three decades past menopause) than the average man, the average woman has more anxiety about aging. Younger Next Year for Women is a book of hope.” And, it’s also available at the public library.

  • Edward F. Gumnick

    Thanks, Anne! I’ve made the book title in the first paragraph up above a link to a page at Amazon.com that lists both books.

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