In 1966 researchers at an American medical school recruited six male college students for a study which required them to spend their summer in bed. The study was done to determine the effects of inactivity on the human body, specifically the cardiovascular system. The experiment was designed to mimic the effects of long term manned space flight. After only 3 weeks in bed, the subjects experienced deterioration in cardiovascular fitness that was equivalent to 20 years of aging. 30 years later, five of the six subjects were retested. Only 2 had continued to exercise on a regular basis. All 5 had gained weight and body fat over that 30 year span. Even so the declines from 30 years of actual aging were less than those they had suffered during the original 3 weeks of bed rest as young students. Immediately after the follow up testing, the men were all put on an aerobic training program that included regular walking, jogging and cycling. In just 6 months the declines they had experienced over the previous 30 years were completely reversed.
It is never too late to begin an exercise plan and realize the health benefits it brings. Cardiovascular benefits will happen with regular aerobic activity and muscle strength will improve with weight training, no matter the starting age. A strength training study done on 14 older adult participants showed an increase in muscle mass after only 9 weeks and an increase in strength after 10 weeks. This was done with previously inactive individuals. They performed 4 sets of 10 repetitions of the leg press machine twice weekly.
I can tell you get up and get moving for the health of it. Your doctor can tell you to start an exercise program to combat diabetes or heart disease. We can even tell you specifically to walk for 20 minutes once a week. Unfortunately the statistics of studies say that only 29 per cent of you will actually follow the advice. If we give you detailed information as to how exercise improves your health, especially heart health, about 10 per cent more of you will comply. But if we ask you to participate in an aerobic activity at a specific time at a specific place and a designated time, studies show, that 91 per cent of you will comply. So if you want to begin an exercise plan to improve your health it seems that attending a fitness class several times a week or hiring a personal trainer to meet you at a specific time weekly will give you best results. It takes some great self motivation to do it on your own. But it can be done. Schedule exercise for yourself as you would staff meetings or medical appointments. Make it part of a routine you follow like showering or brushing your teeth. Once you make it a habit you can only gain, health benefits that is and your only loss might be excess pounds.