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It's Never Too Late!

My daughter asked me to write a column for The Women’s Club Newsletter, and I thought I’d share it with you.

Just to remind you that big shifts in your level of activity or exercise can come at any age!

We’ve all read that it’s never too late to start something new, but if you had asked my professional opinion whether you could start a seriously-challenging exer-cise or sport in your late 50’s, I would have said it was unlikely. That was my professional opinion as a family physician, twenty years into a health-focused integrative medical practice. It turns out I was wrong.

I began rowing with the Ashland Rowing Club in 2004, when I was 56, and continue to row for exercise, competition, and joy. There are indeed a few simple steps to follow for making your entry or re-entry into athletics a success.

Check with your own doctor. If you are over 50, overweight, or have ever been told you had high blood pressure, or any chronic illness, it’s a good idea to check with your physician about a safe level at which to start your exercise program. Don’t take “no” for an answer!

Remember your body. Invest in some sturdy shoes, a good yoga mat, or a sun-screening hat if you’ll be outside. Dress in layers and peel and re-dress as frequently as needed. Drink plenty of water, coconut water, or sports drink.

Play with others. Even if there’s not a lot of chatting that goes on in a group sports venture, there is a lot to be said for camaraderie. Many a morning I’ve looked at my fellow rowers and said, “Wow, I would never have done that workout without you here doing it, too.”

Technique before force. When you are learning something new, avoid injury by learning to do it correctly before you push yourself at all with either endurance or difficulty. Ask a class teacher, hire a personal trainer, and do what it takes to make sure you’ve got the moves down before you push yourself harder.

Cross train. Whatever you decide, do something else, as well. No sport uses every muscle, and balance is an important way to avoid fatigue of the muscles or the brain.

Smile. Whether its friendship, great music, or a new bright t-shirt, congratulate yourself for getting out there and enjoy the day!

Deborah Gordon, M.D., is a family physician specializing in Integrative Medicine. She is a co-founder of