As we get older, exercise becomes more important. That’s because, as we age, our muscle mass decreases. Each year, past 40, we lose 3.5 percent of our muscle mass and since our brains are also shriveling, we can’t remember where we lost it. Maybe it’s in the back seat of the car? Could be in the upstairs closet. Who knows?

But exercise can take your mind off the reality of decreased muscle mass and getting older and help you focus, instead, on that new throbbing in your chest. With exercise, just a few minutes a day can keep your body the finely tuned machine it never was. In fact, according to recent studies, for every minute of exercise during your lifetime, you will have one less minute to complain about exercising.

Exercise also will help you live longer, or maybe it will just feel like it. Among other benefits, it can ward off a multitude of diseases, most of which you can’t spell. Exercise makes you look better, feel better and can help you sleep, as long as you don’t try to nap while on the treadmill. By releasing endorphins into the central nervous system, exercise can produce the state of euphoria, which is near Kansas and renowned for its pushups.

It engages the mind as well, prompting you to come up with even more ingenious excuses for not exercising. “Look, it’s raining dinosaurs!” is a good excuse, even if you’re under covers in your bed imagining abdominal crunches. Or, “Hey, we’re out of Honey-Nut Cheerios!” sometimes can work, particularly if you’re really out of Honey-Nut Cheerios.

We know that exercise is good for us, and particularly good for those of us who are aging, because we keep reading all these articles telling us exercise is good for us, particularly for those of us who are aging. Get out there and walk! Run a marathon! Take up kick-boxing! Beat up your neighbor! Do squats with a kettle ball while swimming during a Zumba class!

Reading all these articles can be completely exhausting, but will get your heart rate up, maybe even to the target range. (By the way, to figure out your target heart rate range, take your resting heart rate — the rate you have when listening to someone sell insurance — multiply that by the number of medications you take on a regular basis, not including vitamins and chocolate, and then subtract how many times you want to nap before it’s even noon. Remember to always exercise at about 85 percent of your target heart rate or 73 percent more than you’d prefer to be doing.)

But while we all acknowledge that exercise is good for us, and becomes more important as we age, let’s admit it: as we age, there are more interesting things to do, like reading obituaries and noticing how many obituary subjects are younger than we are. So, yes, it’s difficult to get started on an exercise regimen.

Here, then, are a few common-sense suggestions to help launch your new fitness plan:

First, assess your fitness level. And don’t be discouraged when you find out you have no fitness level. At least you still have blood pressure.

Consider your fitness goals. It’s probably not realistic to think you can win an Olympic medal in Zumba. Instead, aim for something more achievable — like a participation trophy in 7-card stud.

Build exercise activity into your daily routine. For instance, try to work out every Flag Day or any morning when you intend to pay your utility bills.

Find a fitness buddy.  I recommend my friend Rob, who hates exercise as much as I do and also would prefer getting a beer and a couple of doughnuts.

And remember — before you start any exercise program, check with your medical providers. If you’re lucky, maybe they will stop you.

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