Question: I'm in pretty good shape due to my routine walks almost daily. But I've just recently put on a few extra pounds. I've just turned 62, and I want to know if it's OK to do other exercises to take this weight off.
Answer: First, check with your doctor before starting another type of fitness routine. (And take a look at your diet--nutrition and diet play a big part in weight gain.) Then find a form of exercise you enjoy and dive right in.
Don't limit yourself because of your age. Research at Tufts University has found that muscle cells increase in response to intense exercise--whether you're 18 or 88. I'm not suggesting that you train for a triathlon, just that you evaluate your workout routine (a personal trainer or exercise physiologist can help). Ask questions such as: Has the workout routine become stale or boring? Are you holding back on the intensity of your workouts to protect an old injury? Are you underestimating what you're really capable of?
The key for all of us who strive for optimum fitness is to do better than what we perceive as our best.
Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. To submit a fitness-related question, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. She cannot respond to every query.