There is one major difference between athletes (people who exercise as a lifestyle and sometimes to meet goals) and people who will forever struggle to stay in shape.
Of course, a person can become relatively healthy by informing themselves and making the right food decisions every day (and a few other good decisions you can see in this post: Health By My Rules). But without regular exercise, no person will ever be at their peak fitness. AND it will be harder to maintain any health they do gain.
The difference between an athlete and a couch potato , the key element, is the ability to recognize and push through their pain threshold. Exercise hurts. Muscles burn, body parts stop working like they’re supposed to, blood pounds through your head, and everything inside of you tells you to stop. I am not talking about joint paint or pulled/torn muscles, I’m talking about when you find the right kind of exercise for your body and you stop as soon as you start to hurt.
Everyone has a threshold. I believe it feels different for every person. I know it’s harder for older people to recognize it while avoiding real, long-term issues. But if you can recognize your true exercise threshold, it will give you great power to learn to push through.
So start to test your body. Understand it. Exercise it in lots of different ways and figure out what your pain threshold feels like. And finally, once you understand your point, push past it! Get to the other side of that muscle pain threshold and you will know the incredible feeling of being a true athlete. Your body (yes YOURS) is probably capable of much more than you think.