CARVILLE: Work out longer not harder |

CARVILLE: Work out longer not harder

As we get a little older, things happen. We slow down, lose muscle mass, start putting on weight… often too much weight.

We still feel like we are 18 years old in our heads, but our bodies don’t look 18 any more. In addition, some serious health issues start to arise as we move into our 60s and beyond.

We know that exercise is essential to avoid or mitigate medical issues like hypertension, diabetes, et cetera, so it is natural that seniors ask: “What kinds of exercises should I doing?” My general answer is simple.


Most de-conditioned seniors think people have to exercise ‘hard’ to benefit. They are led to believe that improvement comes only from covering a certain distance in a shorter amount of time. It doesn’t matter if they jog, cycle, row, run… they think faster or harder is better. But it isn’t. Our competitiveness causes us to over-do.

So here is the answer for seniors: Think time, not intensity.

Aerobic exercises are the most efficient to improve your physical fitness. You will show more improvement with steady aerobic exercise than with any other exercise. Here are the simple exercise rules:

— Steady and non-stop

— Minimum of 15 minutes

— Maintain 60 – 80 percent of maximum heart rate (not as intense as it sounds)

— Minimum of four times a week.


Have fun with your exercise routines. Make it an important part of your life. Schedule it and then really do it – jog, walk, bike, dance, yoga, swim, Qi Gong, low impact exercises. Don’t think of exercise in a vacuum. Exercise with friends, have coffee together after, take ‘group exercise’ classes with friendly instructors, explore the joys of Tai chi or join small training groups. There so many ways to have fun. Once you have started you’ll never look back.

We are opening a new South Yuba Club in Grass Valley this December at the former site of Club Sierra. We have a tremendous amount of remodeling and other work to do, but our major goal is to make the entire place enjoyable. We want it to be a place that entices you to have fun, stay longer, hangout with friends and to generally incorporate exercise and fun into your life.


So here is my ‘perfect’ senior exercise recommendation. Get up in the morning and celebrate a new day. Look forward to a happy greeting when you arrive at the gym, spend an hour or more flexing, stretching and moving. Feel that revitalizing energy throughout your body. Then take a refreshing dip in the pool and cap that off with 10 minutes in the hot tub or sauna. Now you’re feeling pretty good.

It’s important that our sixth, seventh and eighth decades are times of joy and sharing. You deserve to treat yourself well. It’s your life. You have earned the right to spend some quality time with yourself.

I always recommend that you first consult your doctor if you have known medical issues or questions about exercising.

Think, “I have ‘x’ years left. I want to enjoy them, be healthy and independent. I want to enjoy my life and my friends. There is no better investment that I can make in my health and happiness than exercising in a joyful way and sharing my life with friends and family.”

Phil Carville is a longtime Nevada County resident and co-owner of the South Yuba Club – Strength & Wellness. He encourages comments and questions. He can be reached at

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