A woman who never exercised until age 66 says a simple exercise routine helped her lose 50 pounds and stabilize her blood sugar.

Resistance band exercise is great for longevity. microgen/Getty Images

  • Patty Branch started exercising in her late 60s and says it transformed her life and her health.

  • She started by walking and now stays motivated with the Silver Sneakers community fitness program.

  • Research shows that building balance, stability and strength can add healthy years to your life.

It’s never too late to start exercising for a longer life, according to a 70-year-old woman whose health metrics transformed after starting a new workout regimen.

Patty Branch of Ohio was struggling with chronic health conditions as she neared retirement several years ago.

Her doctor recommended more exercise, which didn’t give her much hope. He had never exercised in his life and thought it was probably too little too late. Still, he knew he needed a change and started walking. Before long, she was logging more and more steps, and even became a regular at community training classes.

At first, Branch told Business Insider, he was on the cusp of prediabetes, with debilitating nerve pain. Over time, his blood sugar began to stabilize. In four years, Brand had lost more than 50 pounds. By the time he reached his 70s, he had much more daily energy than he had in his 60s.

Now she works out three times a week with Silver Sneakers, a program with online and in-person fitness classes for adults 65 and older at no cost to eligible Medicare plans.

“It’s been such a positive thing that I can’t tell you what it’s done for me physically, emotionally, psychologically and most of all for my health,” he said.

Branch said exercise doesn’t have to leave you sore, burned out or deprived, no matter what age you start.

The stress worsened his health problems over the years

Branch said her health journey began in her late 60s. As he contemplated retirement, illnesses in his family led to a stressful schedule, including long trips to the hospital.

“My weight was going up really fast. My doctor had been trying to tell me very politely over the years that my blood pressure was out of control. I had sleep apnea, high cholesterol, everything,” Branch said. “It’s not the way you’re supposed to start retirement.”

She was on the verge of pre-diabetes and was diagnosed with foot neuropathy, a painful condition involving nerve damage that can cause an intense burning sensation.

He went from being a “total couch potato” to looking forward to his workouts

Branch knew he needed to make a change, but he had joined gyms before and found it hard to stay motivated.

“You spend hundreds of dollars and you go a couple of times and it’s like, ‘Ugh, that’s too much work.’ And I always quit,” she said. “I was just a total couch potato.”

What got her moving was making a simple goal to fit more steps into her day, starting with 5,000 at first.

It worked, walking helped her start losing weight and improving her health, and she now takes more than 10,000 steps a day.

Then Branch got into group workouts, thanks to a friendly instructor who persistently invited her to classes when they were around town.

The sessions, which are around 50 minutes long, include a mix of exercises with resistance bands, weights, exercise balls and lots of lighthearted fun. Many of the trainings include social role-play activities, Branch said one class session left her breathless with laughter as she and a partner pretended

“It’s just a whistle,” he said. “You never know what to expect. But it’s fun and it gets us moving.”

A group of older adults in blue t-shirts doing chair exercises as part of a Silver Sneakers fitness class.

Patty Branch has been attending Silver Sneakers community workouts for a year now and said she’s increased her energy, improved her health and lost weight while having fun.Courtesy of Silver Sneakers

Building muscle and motivation 2 secrets to a long and healthy life

The workouts also emphasize key factors in longevity and healthy aging, such as balance and stability.

Branch also said it’s building muscle, which is one of the main benefits of strength training and can help increase health and extend lifespan.

Branch said the community provides great motivation for training.

“On those mornings when I don’t feel like getting up and going, I feel like I’m letting everyone else down, including myself. It just gets me through the day,” Branch said.

As for her health, her blood sugar is back to normal and her nerve pain has improved significantly.

“My primary doctor is excited,” he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Silver Sneakers is available through eligible Medicaid participants. You are eligible through Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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