We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Getting into pretty good condition from ordinary condition (ordinary is somebody over 30 who is not fat, hikes, walks daily, plays some recreational sports) takes about two years of commitment. Longer if pudgy, mostly sedentary, or if complicated by some physical impairment (which almost everybody over 40 is).
Yes, two years - and that means ideally 5-6 days per week. I can witness to that because at 16 months of my program neither I nor my trainer feel I am ready for a maintenance program yet. I had thought that I might have graduated by now but I have a ways to go. Part of what has slowed me down has been an old skiing shoulder injury and some non-arthritic hip pain.
If you feel inspired to take on such a slow but ultimately-rewarding process, I would recommend getting an evaluation from the smartest trainer you can find - not a musclebound musclehead, but one who knows physiology and anatomy, etc - and being taught a recommended program. Unless you were a well-trained lifter in high school or college, you can not walk into a gym and begin lifting weights, or even dumbells. You will do it wrong and injure something.
In fact, without training you will not even do simple things like medicine ball slams or heavy rope slams correctly. Everything has a correct technique designed for minimal damage and maximum benefit.
I have the luxury of a superb trainer 3 days/wk, thanks to Mrs. BD. That seems ideal. At this point, though, I think I can do my "heavy calisthenics" hour on my own. You can always learn more, but I have the basics down and an hour of calisthenics is a hell of a total body workout and you sweat like crazy.
Advantages of supervision by a trainer:
correcting your technique and managing your recovery time the trainer is your spotter. you need that for some weights planning your program to match your strengths and weaknesses pushing you harder than you would yourself making adjustments for aches and pains holding you accountable trainer can give you his advice on what you should do on "off days" the well-educated trainers will give you a nutritional plan too, depending on your needs
A less-expensive alternative is a group conditioning program like Crossfit. Crossfitters have good fun and good group bonding while busting their asses, but the supervision is not as exacting as it with with an individual trainer who watches your every move and corrects you constantly.
For a "boot camp" program like mine, most trainers would recommend something like ours (that of me and Mrs. BD):
Mon: 1 hr upper body weights or push weights Tues: Half hour cardio intervals Weds: 1 hr. lower body wts or pull weights Thurs: Half hour cardio intervals or 40 mins speed walk Fri: 1 hr mixed "heavy calisthenics" Sat: Half hr cardio intervals or speed-walking, plus 1/2 hr calisthenics. Some days just 40 mins speed-walking when it's a beautiful day.
All you need to do is mountain bike. It's a brutal full body and cardio workout. It does require developing handling skills, but it is addictive once you acquire the requisite conditioning and handling chops. I supplement it with weight training, but the riding itself is so demanding that one can skip the weights and still be super fit and strong. It's exciting and FUN, so it's easy to stay motivated.
Perhaps in my future. Meanwhile, having lost 96 lbs., I am officially no longer medically overweight, only at the high end of normal. I'm still doing nothing more complicated than walking the dogs, occasional jogging, and lots of harden garden work or housework. 80% in the kitchen, 20% in the gym, as they say. I'm no athlete, but at least I can wear normal clothes, size 10.
We are talking about something that is not a project or hobby, but basic maintenance. So it could be argued that reliance on a trainer - or conceiving of this as "training/exercise" rather than "life" - is counterproductive. These are not changes but new ways to live, that I will be practicing for the rest of my life.
I got awful advice from trainers and weight-room staff, most of whom are not focused on longevity (perhaps because of cynicism about the number of their clients who can't even acheive relatively minor self-management goals....)
I am also convinced that "good advice" is actually very personal. Diet, exercise, and mobility prescriptions that apply/work for some, aren't/don't for others.
The longevity focus for non-athletes over 40 could be generalized as:
Body composition - losing fat
Body composition - holding on to muscle
Vascular system - helped by fat loss and exercise
Skeletal - bone mass. Load-bearing exercise that builds muscle usually covers this, if you work up to significant loads relative to body weight.
"Toughening" - dynamic-gymnastic type sport or martial art, even if practiced gently. My Krav Maga ("jewish judo") instructor wisely includes tumbling and breakfalls for our group.
For most of us this boils down to:
seeking out low-level activity - walking, gardening
For those who, like, me, choose to roll their own program: The best source of advice I've found for non-athletes over 40 is a professional sports coach named Dan John. His web presence (blog and email forum) is chock full of very good free info, and his books provide a common-sense approach to weight training as part of a total wellness/longevity package. Sure, he writes rah-rah elite-sounding stuff to keep his reputation as a team sports coach, but he has a lot of info for older non-athletes, all of it tempered by real-world experience.