20 Reasons It's Never Too Late to Get In Shape

20 Reasons It's Never Too Late to Get In Shape
Image: Twenty20

20 Reasons It's Never Too Late to Get in Shape
Twenty20

We don't even know how many lies we've heard about getting in shape. One of the first was that we weren't supposed to eat any fat -- like at all -- if we wanted to lose weight. After all, eating fat means we get fat, right? Anyone else have a mom who stocked the fridge with weird, chemical flavors of fat-free yogurt, like Key Lime Pie and Caramel Sundae? Luckily, that was a just strange trend of the '80s and '90s. Then there were the idea that we weren't supposed to have any carbs -- again, like at all -- if we wanted to be in shape. Carbs were the devil. We guess some people still believe this, but these days, we're pretty smitten with variations of the Mediterranean diet, which basically just means eating lots of fresh foods, avoiding processed foods, and limiting our overall calorie intake to "pretty reasonable" while working out consistently. 

And hey, just eating less processed food and working out really does make us feel better -- and helps us get into shape more easily. It also turns out that we didn't actually ever need any of the weird gadgets that were sold in the old days. Ours was a household where mom was super definitely into all the trends of the moment, including the Thigh Master. While any trendy new exercise regimen can be great if it helps us get into shape and inspires us (in fact, it's totally worth checking out these 17 Exercise Fads From the '80s and '90s You'll Want to Try Again), exercise trends are also really, really, profoundly unnecessary -- and can be a distraction from some of the basics that can really help us get where we want to be. In the same way, the idea that once we reach a certain age, we may no longer be able to get in shape is a pernicious lie that somehow stays alive. The truth is, it's never too late -- and we can bring the whole family in on the fun that is getting -- and staying -- in shape, too. 

  • Always a Good Time

    1
    Always a Good Time
    Twenty20

    Fitness is for everyone, no matter how they're built or what their age may be. It's a universal need for a healthy life, but it looks different for each individual. For anyone who doesn't like how they feel, know that it's not too late to get in shape. It doesn't matter how old we are, or whether we've ever been in shape in our life, there are reasons to start -- like, now.

  • Start at the Beginning

    2
    Start At The Beginning
    Twenty20

    Don't worry about what everyone else can do, how flexible or strong they are. Instead, it's important for us to think about what we can do, and then find a way to do it. Look for classes, trainers, and online videos that seem interesting, doable, and supportive. It's OK to go as slowly as we need to. 

  • Know Those Limits

    3
    Know Those Limits
    Twenty20

    Whatever fitness routine gets started, we're the one who knows our limits. Talk to an instructor or doctor, and ask for recommendations on how much is too much. No one is going to tell someone to sit down and do nothing -- getting in shape is a goal for all of us.

  • Being Fit Is Never Done

    4
    Being Fit Is Never Done
    Twenty20

    Getting in shape is not something we can just check off our list. It's something we aim to achieve and then work at maintaining the rest of our life. Getting and staying in shape has benefits beyond better-fitting pants. Finding activities that we like and doing them the rest of our life is key.

  • Reverse Lifelong Bad Habits

    5
    Reverse Lifelong Bad Habits
    Twenty20

    Starting a fitness routine and working toward getting in shape can help reverse the effects of lifelong bad habits. If giving up smoking is the first step to getting in shape, the body starts its recovery right away. (It's never too late to give up smoking, either!) Exercising engages the muscles immediately, which improves circulation and starts building strength. The truth is, our bodies want to be in shape -- we just have to let them.

  • Fitness Is Fun

    6
    Fitness Is Fun
    Twenty20

    Getting in shape doesn't mean we have to go right out and train for a marathon (unless we want to). It doesn't mean we have to lift weights (but it's fine if we do), or even join a gym (although it can be helpful). It's important to ask ourselves what physical activities we enjoy, then get out there and do them. 


  • There's Plenty of Time

    7
    There's Plenty of Time
    Twenty20

    There's no time limit on getting in shape, no real deadline for doing something. The pressure is off, even if swimsuit season is right around the corner. (Pro tip: Anyone who has a swimsuit has a swimsuit body) It's OK to take time -- the goal doesn't have to be tied to a number on a scale or a tag on a pair of pants. Our bodies are happy as long as they're moving. The folks who get where they want to be are patient, determined, and motivated.

  • It's Never Too Late to Build Muscle

    8
    It's Never Too Late to Build Muscle
    Twenty20

    Even folks in their 60s and 70s can rebuild muscle, plenty of studies show. With regular, progressive weight-resistance training, shrunken and atrophied muscles get bigger and make us stronger. It's true that, as we age, we lose actual muscle fiber, especially if we've led sedentary lives in middle age. But a specific exercise regimen can develop muscles in older adults that are as strong as muscles in the average 40- or 50-year-old.

  • Plenty of Support

    9
    Plenty of Support
    Twenty20

    We can get plenty of individual help and support, no matter where we are in our fitness journey (even if we haven't started). Smartphone apps and fitness trackers can do much of the thinking for us, leaving us free to get out and move around and, eventually, increase distance or resistance to hit fitness goals.

  • No One Is Too Old

    10
    It's Never Too Late to Build Muscle
    Twenty20

    There are so many examples of elderly people being in great shape, it's hard to argue that there's an age limit on being fit and healthy. At 87, Charles Eugster was getting a muffin top and felt as if his muscles were weakening -- typical for most octogenarians. So, he got in better shape. And before he died at the age of 97, he was arguably the fittest elderly person in the world.

  • Start Anytime

    11
    Start Anytime
    Twenty20

    In our youth-obsessed world, we can have the impression that hard workouts, lean body mass, strength, and stamina are only within reach of the young. With that mindset, some people in their 30s think it's too late to get in shape, which means many people in their 40s and 50s think this, too. But we can start getting fit any time. For those who are really sedentary, put on a comfortable pair of shoes and take a walk -- as far it feels comfortable. Do it again the next day, and then the next. All that it takes is to start.

  • It's Never Too Late to Eat Better

    12
    It's Never Too Late to Eat Better
    Twenty20

    Forks are as important as Fitbits when looking to get in shape. It's never too late to change eating habits to include more whole foods, fewer sugars, and processed products, better fats, and fewer high-calorie meals. Everyone needs to be eating a rainbow of vegetables. Individuals with special nutritional needs should talk to their doctors or a nutritionist before making radical changes. But there's no age limit on eating well and exercising.

  • All Shapes & Sizes Welcome

    13
    All Shapes and Sizes Welcome
    Twenty20

    No one is ever too big, too weak, too small, or too out-of-shape to start getting fit, with the goal being solely defined by ourselves. We can start right now. We can change our minds about workouts. We can change our minds about what our goals are. But we shouldn't limit ourselves because we think we're "too" something.

  • Shaping Up After 60

    14
    Shaping Up After 60
    Twenty20

    Plenty of people, especially women, put their health and needs last during their middle years, either to build their careers or raise families -- or both. Plenty of women have gotten in better shape in their 60s than they were ever in previously. They did it by finally prioritizing their needs, doing what they enjoyed, trying new things, and partnering with friends.

  • Gentle Exercise Works, Too

    15
    Gentle Exercise Works, Too
    Twenty20

    We don't have to go at it hard, if gentle exercise is what's preferred. Focus on stretching, a little resistance training for muscle-building and bone strength, and enjoying whatever it is that we're doing physically. Try lots of different things until finding the activity that suits best.

  • All Shapes Are Good Shapes

    16
    All Shapes Are Good Shapes
    Twenty20

    Anyone who doesn't like their shape might need to ask themselves why. Self-acceptance can come late, but better late (and fit!) than never. Getting in shape means different things for different bodies. Know it, embrace it, and feel healthy.

  • So Many Age Categories

    17
    So Many Age Categories
    Twenty20

    For those motivated by deadlines and competitions, then get in the game. Find a Couch-to-5K (C25K) plan or set a goal to run the city's 5K or half-marathon by this time next year. There are loads of age categories and, no matter what shape someone is in now, preparing for a race means they can be competitive. 

  • Fitness & Fun

    18
    Fitness and Fun
    Twenty20

    For anyone who's already out having fun, is there a way to incorporate fitness into those activities? Whether we like walking around cities or hanging out near water, there are activities that can also be part of getting in shape. It's never too late to change old habits. It's never too late to get into fitness as fun. 

  • Muscles Strengthen Quickly

    19
    Muscles Reverse Quickly
    Twenty20

    Even just a little exercise challenges dormant muscles and allows them to get stronger. Whether we'd like to have a stronger core for balance and posture, or stronger legs to stay mobile and lower the risk for falling and breaking bones, there are exercises and routines that can get us there -- no matter condition or age.

  • There's a Community Waiting

    20
    There's a Community Waiting for You
    Twenty20

    We might feel as if we're alone as we embark on getting in shape, but there is a community full of people just like us in the middle of their own fitness journey. Find them -- they don't care how old we are or what shape we're in. They want to do this together.

More Slideshows