Harvard says 60 minutes is a must

Raquel Welch fabulous at 69 --she works outAccording to a new study by researchers at Harvard University, middle-aged women must exercise an hour a day through moderate activity to maintain their weight. Experts who commented on the study added it doesn’t have to be a traditional workout, or done in a single period. Activities such as brisk walking qualify. 

Feel better? Well, neither did political commentator Cokie Roberts when she recently discussed the subject with Raquel Welch on Good Morning America. When the actress remarked that an hour was not that much time to exercise each day, Roberts seemed incredulous. She is Welch’s contemporary and looks quite trim. I am sure she finds time to work out.  

But she had no way of knowing that Raquel Welch, who is gloriously well-preserved at age 69, works out for two hours most days with a combination of yoga, weight training, and Pilates. She denies having had any plastic surgery, except for a nose job years ago. Many close to her, as well as experts, bear this out. She looks fabulous. She sticks mostly to diet a low-cal diet of lean protein and lots organic fruit.
 
Darlings, the message is loud and clear; exercise is unavoidable and it works. The sooner you get into the habit the better. If you are older, it is never too late. Don’t skimp or cheat yourself; you really can’t anyway, your body knows the difference. You will look better now too, if you work out, even if you are thin. Exercise makes even a good young body more fabulous. If you are in your forties or older it is not too late for you. I was an erratic and reluctant exerciser all my youth. I never got serious until I was older, and it was amazing how quickly things shaped up.
Don’t listen to naysayers, even doctors, who say it takes months or years to get results past a certain age – that’s not true. Go to a good women’s gym and get a good trainer.
 
I can tell you this report is accurate. And so can the 34,000 healthy women who were studied over 13 years. When I have my fitness routine figured out, I can eat almost anything what I want and stay fairly slim. I say almost, as I have trained myself to eat moderately and not drink too much. I can eat a few treats and have a few drinks a week and not blow up. Here in Atlanta, I am still trying to replace the activity I gave up by moving from an active walking city to a driving city. It is impossible to walk as part of daily life here.  I have tried it. Instantly, I gained a few pounds. It drives me nuts. It’s not huge, but I am constantly dieting it off. So I am also trying new forms of indoor activity, looking to replace all the walking I used to do to my yoga and fabulous ladies-only gym. It is maddening it is taking so long!

But I will find away to do it. I always have. Sometimes it takes me longer to figure things out in a
new city. But if I can do it, you can too.  
 
My husband was quick to argue it wasn’t easy for many people to find the time. I had to laugh, he works, often long days, and yet he manages.
 
The options are endless. As both a reluctant exerciser and professional beauty editor I have tried a million things. The wisdom used to be to pick one thing and get good at it. Now the experts seem to recommend mixing up your routine. It seems that confusing your mind and body challenges both your physical and mental muscles.
Using a personal training for a while to get started is a great option, if you can afford it. Try splitting the cost for buddy sessions with a friend. Many trainers will do this in this economy. Don’t keep a trainer who does not challenge you. An easy-going trainer who chats and lets you take lots of breaks is not good. A friend and I took private lessons together to learn Ashtanga yoga so we could be confident in classes. It worked like a charm. 
 
If you have always wanted to play tennis, dance, or whatever, get a teacher, class, or a DVD. Then just go. Also ask your friends who look fit. They may have a great yoga studio or club. Most places offer free classes or passes to newcomers. You have nothing to lose and you may fall in love with the class or teacher. If time or money are short, DVDs are great. We review the best of them all the time and will do so in the coming weeks. Many new ones break the workout into 10-minute segments –how fabulous is that? And they offer a mix of yoga, weights, cardio, and Pilates too!
 
After I watched Raquel on TV, I checked her out on the net. Her new autobiography, Behind the Cleavage, reveals her anti-aging secrets. She looks so good I was compelled to read a few of her other interviews. I am still surprised at the vitriol some women have towards women who age well. They always suspect money and surgery are the secret. Darlings, it isn’t so. I agree with Raquel: surgery won’t help anyone who doesn’t eat well and exercise. Genetics and life are not fair. There are good reasons people gain weight. And heavier people can look fabulous and age well, too. The point is to age well and healthfully for you. 
 
It should be noted that the women in the study were not overweight and they did not diet. But slenderness alone is not the only benefit of exercise. The U.S. government noted that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week can help lower the risk of many serious diseases.
 
As frivolous as it sounds I have always found vanity a fabulous motivator to find time for anything.
 
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