I didn't start exercising regularly until I was 41 years old. Along with my calorie counting, I decided I needed a calorie-burner, so I began what has now become an everyday habit.
At 41, For fun exercise, I began inviting a co-worker over one night a week for ping pong. He was pretty good, and Tony and I had to work hard to match his skill. We finally did, after several months - well, at least we could win occasionally. I've kept this up, off and on, since that time.
I also started a program of calisthenics and weight training which I continue to this day. I had to start really slowly - I could not do more than five girls pushups or five leg lifts to start with. I gradually built up, until now, three days a week, I do two sets of:
1. Eight four-count toe touches. Bend the knees just a bit, reach down, and touch the floor (or come close) in front of your toes, between your ankles, and behind your ankles, then up. Repeat seven more times. Then stretch your arms as high as you can, and bend sideways for a count of four. Then the other side, repeat on each side. Then clasp your hands loosely in front of your waist, and swing them to one side for a count of four, then the other, then repeat on each side. This exercise keeps bending over in the garden from being a spine-stiffening, leg-aching, I'll-never-do-that-again event.
2. Superman paddling. Lay on your belly, and raise your arms and legs from the floor - flutter your legs and arms for a 20-count. It's surprisingly hard. These first two exercises allow me to bend over in the garden for hours without killing my back. I feel it in my legs for a day or two if I do that much gardening, but there's no real damage.
3. Twenty girl's pushups. Just like the guy kind, but instead of using your toes for the third floor-point, use your knees. At first you may be only able to do a few, but it will grow on you. If you have knee problems, lie on your back and push the weights up. When you can do two sets of twenty, it's time to think about increasing the weight.
4. Eighty sideways leg lifts. Lay on your side and raise your upper leg as high as it's comfortable to go, twenty times. Then raise your lower leg twenty times. Flip to the other side and do it again.
5. Thirty-five crunches. Think of sit-ups, but raise only your upper body from the floor. I do five that way, then five touching my right elbow to my left knee, and five.... repeat until you're at 35.
6. Twenty flyes. Lie on your back and stretch out your arms to the sides to grab ten pound weights (start smaller, of course). Lift them from out there to above your chest. Keep control - do it slowly. I tend to do five above my chest, then five above my ribs, then five above my chin, then five more above my chest. I make it a point to keep my eyes open during this exercise. I tend to almost sleep through the others, since I wake up slowly in the morning, but I feel it's important not to drop ten pound dumbbells on myself.
7. Twenty on-your-back leg lifts. I point my toes slightly outward so it will work my inner thigh muscles more. I have knock knees, and that's supposed to help keep them stable.
8. Twenty knee crinkles. Because of my knock knees, I need stronger muscles around my knee caps to keep them stabilized. I lay on my back with my heels together and my toes apart. Then I tense the muscles around my knees, raising my toes. Repeat. At the same time, I do my shoulder stretches, laying my arms out to the side and keeping them on the floor while I move them to straight beyond my head.
9. Forty leg lifts. Kneel on the floor - knees and elbows. Raise each leg toward the ceiling five times, repeat until you get to forty altogether. If you have bad knees, bend over a chair so your body is approximately level with the floor. Kick your legs back.
10. Forty rows. Take a dumbbell (I use 12 pounds) in one hand. Kneel and brace the other hand on something low, so your back is nearly level with the floor, but there's room to move the dumbbell. Lift it toward your chest in a rowing motion ten times. Do the other hand, then repeat.
11. I have a husband who collects exercise equipment, and he asked me to do some body-sculpting. So as dessert to the exercise meal, I do thirty behind-the-head pull-down exercises (lat pulldowns) and thirty machine rowing exercises. These have been added in about the last two years to my routine. He says they make my waist appear smaller by toning and growing the muscles of my upper back. I'm for that!
12. In February of 2008, after reading Where Did All the Fat Go? by Rob Huizenga, I've approximately doubled my exercises by adding 20 minutes of evening Nordic Track or stationary cycling (except in gardening season). Yes, it's a little hard on a 60-year-old woman, but I'm managing to do it, most days. We'll see if it results in dramatic weight loss, like the book said it would.
(10/23/15) The photo above was taken a couple of months ago - age 65. I am wearing face makeup, but the photo is untouched.
In all of the above, I had to work up to the routine I do now. I started flyes with two pound weights. (And after I injured my shoulder five years ago, I spent a lot of time with a weight in one hand and nothing in the other, going through the motions with just the weight of my arm.) The key to making exercise work is to do it regularly. I find that mornings are the only time I can count on being able to work out. If I wait until evening, something often interrupts. So I just get up earlier and do it. I have a TV in my exercise room, which I play during most workouts.
If I have to skip a day or just an evening workout for some reason, I pick it up again the next day. I think of the above as my regular workout.