You are NOT too old to exercise vigorously!
A study from the Journal of Preventative Medicine has shown that vigorous physical activity is independently associated with reduced decline in the functional capacity of older adults. The interesting aspect of this study is that exercising at vigorous or high intensity produced these positive benefits independently of exercise volume. Maintaining functional capacity is a key aspect of healthy aging to ensure that we can continue to lead active lives into our twilight years.
So what implications does this have for the way that we exercise?
Incorporating exercise of ‘vigorous’ intensity into our regular exercise program is important to achieve these ‘anti aging’ benefits. ‘Vigorous’ intensity is obviously a relative term and can be judged simply by your perceived exertion while you exercise ie. assuming that you have no medical conditions preventing you from exercising at this level, you are aiming for the intensity of some of your exercise sessions to feel ‘hard’.
In my experience, one of the main barriers to overcome are our societal expectations that once you are older, you will stop exercising at any sort of intensity and confine your physical activity to a light walk and perhaps some gardening. While these are both great forms of low intensity exercise and enjoyable ways to spend time, there still is a need to exercise vigorously, regardless of your age and stage to ensure that you ‘age well’.