Advice on this page includes routines that work for a reasonably active Sixty-something. Before you adopt anything you see here, please be sure you are in reasonably good condition for moderate exercise.  If you have not had a physical examination recently, get one before you start on any exercise program.

As I write this, I am 66 years old and in pretty good shape for an old fart. Under the philosophy of Use it or Lose it, I follow a daily regimen that has kept me ahead of the aging curve.  I want to use this space to share some of my thoughts with those of you who are past the halfway point of your reasonable life expectancy and want to extend it as far as you can.  It’s not scientific, and I’m not selling anything.  These are just practices and procedures that have worked for me.
But before you do anything that I show on this page, make sure you are in reasonably good condition for moderate exercise.  If you have not had a physical examination in a while, I would suggest one before you start on any exercise program.
I wasn’t always so conscious about my weight and fitness.  I grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a Pepsi for breakfast, which led to my unenviable position of fattest kid in the class.  As a child, I would complain to my mother, who would tell me that I wasn’t fat, I was just pleasingly plump.  Besides, she’d say, fat people are jolly. Well, I wasn’t so jolly, but I didn’t do anything about it until I’d gone through high school as a 5-foot-10, 225-pound offensive tackle.  Oh, I was jolly and everybody liked me, but I didn’t like myself very much. 
It wasn’t until June 1, 1971, when I received my notice to report for active duty in the U.S. Army Reserve that I came to my senses.  On that date, I started running.  First about a quarter-mile, then every day a little more and a little more until the day before I was to report, on June 22, I’d built up to two miles.  I weighed 178 when I reported, and I never had problems with the intensive physical training, or any other physical activity.  
After my active duty hitch was up, I moved to Baltimore to start work at the Baltimore Evening Sun.  I lived for the first few weeks with a colleague at work, Ed Hewitt, who also had gone through a lifetime of ups and downs with weight and conditioning.  I told Ed of my pre-basic training epiphany, and we started running together around a high school track on December 17, 1971. 
 I ran five marathons in a three-year period between 1983 and 1985, but back problems in the late 1980’s reduced my running to shorter distances which fit my lifestyle and conditioning goals. 
Today I still run between two and five miles five days per week, but I’ve supplemented that with a stretching program that is the crux of my advice to other 60-somethings. And my weight hovers between 170 and 175 pounds. As I said, not bad for an old fart!

© 2012 JW Miller All Rights Reserved.
 The Belly Buster works lower back and abs

​The belly buster is another good core exercise, because it works two troublesome areas:
the lower back and the stomach muscles.  This is a good exercise to use at the end of your 
routine when you are inclined to cheat a little and rest a bit longer between stretches. 

Lay on your back, your arms at your sides.  Raise your toes to transfer any pressure from 
your feet and pretend you are trying to push your belly button through the ceiling. Hold it 
for a count of ten and repeat five times.  As you become more comfortable, increase the 
duration and/or number of repetitions. 

As with the other exercises I've described,start out slowly and build up to a comfortable 
level for you. As you can see, this is another exercise you can do anywhere, so find a 
comfortable spot and get to work.  

Strengthen the Core in 10 Minutes

I’ve had an iffy lower back since my 20’s, which puts me in the company of at least 80% of the male population, according to a recent article in the magazine Men’s Health. Despite that, I have remained active, from running marathons in my 30’s to shorter road races and regular golf since my 40’s.  

But when I passed 60, I knew the odds of escaping lower back pain for the duration were growing long. I determined it was time to do everything in my power to hold off nagging, or even debilitating, lower back pain as long as possible. 
I began to research the issue and learned that most lower back pain comes not only from weakness in the back muscles but also the abs and the buttocks which support the back. I came to the conclusion that I needed to strengthen those muscles, which collectively are referred to as the “core” muscles. 

For us 60-somethings, the best method to strengthen the core muscles is a daily workout that includes, or even consists entirely of, a stretching regimen. I’ve read books, looked online and have come up with some simple exercises that anyone can do in 10 to 20 minutes. I'm introducing them here. Start off easy, and if you continue for a reasonable time, you will see the results.  

The Side Plank works the Love Handles

There is absolutely nothing to love about love handles, those accumulations of flab that hang around your waist like a deflated bike tire. But when you get to our age, you come to the realization that love handles are as much a product of bad gravity as overindulgence.  The good news is that you can reduce them with proper exercise. 

The side plank that I am demonstrating to the left is another low-impact exercise. Start out like you are going to do the plank, but then roll over to your side and balance on your elbow and shoe.  Hold that position for a count of ten, then turn over on the other side and repeat.  Three repetitions on each side will be enough to start, but the more you can increase the reps and the length of time you can stay balanced, the more effective the results.  
The Plank is the basic stretching exercise that anybody can do!

The plank is a good starter exercise that works the lower back and abs. I say "starter" because it is a 
low-stress, low-impact exercise that you can do anywhere, even while watching TV.  Although the picture at 
the right shows me on the patio in warm weather, inside on the living room carpet is just as good. The main
point is to find a place that is accessible and comfortable.

To perform the plank properly, lay down on your stomach with your elbows on the floor at your side.  
Slowly raise your body onto your elbows  and your toes, keeping your back as straight as possible, like a plank! 
You should feel a slight pull in your lower back, which means you are achieving the purpose of working the 
lower back muscles.  I would recommend you try and hold the position for ten seconds, or a slow count of ten, 
then relax and rest for a count of ten.  Repeat it two or three times, then increase your duration and your reps
on a daily basis at your own pace. 
The Cobra can strengthen the turn of a golfer's backswing

The Cobra is the best low-impact exercise I know to help the veteran golfer hold onto a strong turn on the backswing.  The exercise, so named because to do it properly seems like you are twisting and coiling different parts of your body like a snake, was taught to me by Chicago Bears trainer Tim Bream when I was having lower back problems.  

Start out by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.  Pick up your left foot and place it outside your right leg at the knee, as I am doing in the example to the left.  Then twist your torso to your left and place your outstretched right fist to the outside of your left knee.  Twist your torso at the waist as far to your left as you can while pushing against your left knee with your right fist.  Hold it for a count of ten and then repeat it on the other side.  (That would be right foot outside left leg; twist to the right and place left fist outside your right knee.)

  Start out with three reps on each side and then work upward by holding a higher count and then adding reps.  This is not only a great stretch but a good preventative measure for the lower back.

The Reach is tougher, but just as effective!

​The stretch that I call "the reach" is a bit tougher, especially for the beginner, but the results will be just as effective if you stay with it. To start, assume a normal four-point "push-up" position, palms and toes on the floor.

Raise the right arm out straight as if you are reaching for something, balancing on your left palm and toes. Do it for ten seconds, and then switch hands. If you feel a cramp or muscle tightness in your chest, stop immediately! Muscles that have not been worked might rebel at first. If you're okay, start with three reps and increase at your own pace.

This exercise helps stretch the love handles and it can help tone the arms while tightening the core. This one might be tougher to increase duration or reps, but it might be the best overall for helping you get to that desired physical condition.