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Myths About Older Adults and Exercise

Updated: Aug 18, 2019

Exercise Myth #1:     Trying to exercise and get healthy is pointless.

Declining Health as we age is inevitable. Getting older doesn’t mean we will get decrepit! It's just not true. There are people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s out there running marathons and staying healthy. Many of the symptoms that we associate with old age -- such as weakness and loss of balance -- are actually symptoms of inactivity, not age. Exercise improves more than your physical health. It can also boost memory and help prevent dementia. And it can help you maintain your independence. If you stay strong and agile as you age, you'll be more able to keep doing the things you enjoy and less likely to need help.

Exercise Myth #2:     Exercise isn't safe for someone my age -- I don't want to fall and break a hip.

Studies show that exercise can reduce your chances of a fall. Exercise builds strength, balance, and agility. Worried about osteoporosis and weak bones? One of the best ways to strengthen them is with regular exercise.

Exercise Myth #3:      I have health problems so I shouldn't exercise.

On the contrary, if you have a chronic health problem -- such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease -- exercise is almost certainly a good idea. Check with a doctor first, but exercise will probably help. Exercise is the best medicine for many health problems. For many people, exercise can do as much if not more good than the 5 to 10 medications they take every day.

Exercise Myth #4:      I'm afraid I might have a heart attack.

We've all heard about people who had heart attacks while exercising. It can happen. However, the many health benefits of exercise far exceed the risk. Again, check with your Doctor before you begin an Exercise Program. Inactivity is actually more dangerous than being physically active.

Exercise Myth #5:      I never really exercised before -- it's too late to make a difference in my health.

It is never too late to start exercising.  Studies have found that even people in their nineties starting an exercise routine can boost muscle strength. I have several clients in their 90’s and I can tell you that it works for them! Other research shows that starting exercise late in life can still cut the risk of health problems -- such as diabetes --and improve other symptoms.

Exercise Myth #6:       Exercise will hurt my joints.

If you're in chronic pain from arthritis, exercising may seem too painful. Truth is, studies show that exercising helps with arthritis pain. One study of people over age 60 with knee arthritis found that those who exercised more had less pain and better joint function.

Exercise Myth #7:       I don't have time.

This is a common myth in all age groups. Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. That might sound like a lot. It's only a little over 30 minutes a day over 5 days. What's more, you don't have to do it all in one chunk. You can split it up. For instance, take a 15-minute walk in the morning and pedal on a stationary bike for 15 minutes in the evening --and you're done.

Exercise Myth #8:       I'm too weak to start exercising.

Maybe you just recovered from an illness or surgery and are feeling too weak to walk around the block. Maybe you only get out of the chair each day to go to the bathroom. If so, start there. Decide today to get in and out of your chair 10 times. As you do it more, your strength will increase and you can set higher goals.

Exercise Myth #9:       I'm disabled, so I can't exercise.

A disability can make exercise challenging, but there really is no excuse for not doing some sort of exercise. I have clients in wheelchairs and they have made significant progress with exercising. Even people who are bedridden can find ways to exercise. A Personal Trainer can modify exercises to work around your disability. There are lots of ways to get fit at low or no cost.

Exercise Myth #10:       Gyms are for young people.

It is true, the gym scene can be intimidating for older people; however there are Personal Trainers who have private/semi private fitness studios. Many like me are willing to travel to your homes! Find an environment where you feel comfortable exercising.

Exercise Myth #11:        Exercise is boring.

Find some activity that you enjoy! If exercise is boring, you're not doing it right. Exercise doesn't even have to feel like exercise.  Remember that any physical activity counts. Whether it's catching up with a friend while you walk the mall, or taking a dance class, or chasing your grandchildren, or bowling, or raking, or gardening, it’s a start!


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