Healthy and Slim

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Retirement could kill you if you don’t start exercising. Try these 6 expert tips to launch a healthy habit.

You know you need to do it, and you promise to start tomorrow. But the road from the sofa to the gym, pool or yoga studio can prove insurmountable when the day dawns. You’re just not into exercise. And you’re not alone.

Only about one in five adults exercise regularly, and that number drops to 12% for people over age 65. Working adults say the main barrier is lack of time. But having more free time, combined with a lack of structure in retirement, can also make committing to exercise a challenge.

“People’s schedules up until retirement have a lot of activity built in,” said Dr. Katie Hill, chief medical officer of Nudj Health, a Pasadena-based company that works with physicians to improve the health of older patients. 

“You’re walking to and from the car, walking around the office, getting out from your desk, going to meetings, going to lunch,” said Hill. “Our external schedules help give us structure. A lot of that goes away in retirement. Physical activity levels are no longer baked into your routine and a lot of sitting happens.”

Add to that the pull of powerful forces, including fear of falling or injury, believing that exercise is for the young and it’s too late to start, the appeal of more sedentary activities, and a feeling of having earned the right to relax and do what you please; all of these can put movement low on the priority list.

“Those who are lifelong exercisers are likely to continue into later life,” said Margie E. Lachman, a psychologist at Brandeis University and lead author of When Adults Don’t Exercise: Behavioral Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in Sedentary Middle-Aged and Older Adults. 

“In contrast, to start exercising later in life requires one to decide how, what, and when

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