I was fortunate. Several years ago at our local "Y", I took some classes with Janice Maida. She was never a dancer (many Pilates instructors come from the dance field) but had found Pilates as her way to back to health after a broken back. This woman who spent MONTHS in a mostly prone position ended up being able to do roll overs! What's a roll over? Do you remember when you were a little kid and they had you 'ride the bike' on your back during gym class? Legs way up in the air? That gives you a clue, but you really need to take a class to understand it. In Pilates you do all of this with control and all your muscles firing to make it safe at 40+. It takes several classes to really start to listen to what your body is telling you, but it is SO worth it!
Anyway, I had my class this evening and as usual, I'm exhausted, I'm drained, I have EARNED my glass of wine, but I know that for the next two days, I'll be more limber, more energized and more aware of how my body is moving. This is important because as we age, we are fighting all kinds of processes of breakdown in our bodies...not to mention there is a positive relationship between aging and gravity, i.e. the older we get, the more gravity we feel! Ha ha.
If you're interested in more info on Pilates (and really, this study of mindful movement has saved my back), leave me a comment and I'll get back with you. If you live anywhere NEAR Northern Virginia, you need to take a class with her! You can find out more about her and her philosophy here. And if you live elsewhere, you can order a DVD through her website.
If you have kids, YOU continuing to exercise and listen to your body is crucial. It will be an example to them, and you'll be around longer to enjoy them.