Fitness Over 50: Five Myths on Old Age Exercise Exposed

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Exercise now, enjoy life later (and longer).

As you grow older, an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Regular exercise can help boost energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of illness or pain. Not only is exercise good for your body, it’s also good for your mind, mood, and memory. Whether you’re generally healthy or are managing an illness, there are plenty of ways to get more active, improve confidence, and boost your fitness.

Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be a challenge as you get older. You may feel discouraged by illness, ongoing health problems, or concerns about injuries or falls. Or, if you’ve never exercised before, you may not know where to begin. Or perhaps you think you’re too old or frail, or that exercise is boring or simply not for you.

While these may seem like good reasons to slow down and take it easy as you age, they’re actually even better reasons to get moving. Exercise can energize your mood, relieve stress, help you manage symptoms of illness and pain, and improve your overall sense of well-being.

In fact, exercise is the key to staying strong, energetic, and healthy as you get older. And it can even be fun, too, especially if you find like-minded people to exercise with.

No matter your age or your current physical condition, you can benefit from exercise. Reaping the rewards of exercise doesn’t have to involve strenuous workouts or trips to the gym. It’s about adding more movement and activity to your life, even in small ways. Whether you are generally healthy or are managing an illness—even if you’re housebound—there are many easy ways to get your body moving and improve your health and outlook.

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Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.

Fact: Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure, and obesity. Not only can exercise help stem the decline in strength and vitality that comes with age, it even improve it. And the mood benefits of exercise can be just as great as 70 or 80 as they were at 20 or 30.

Myth 2: Older people shouldn’t exercise. They should save their strength and rest.

Fact: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for adults over 50. Inactivity often causes older adults to lose the ability to do things on their own and can lead to more hospitalizations, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses.

Myth 3: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.

Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling.

If you’re seriously worried about taking a tumble, don’t do anything to strenuous or too far out of your comfort zone. There are plenty of actives to get you moving that won’t keep you worried about injuring yourself the entire time. This article has a pretty solid list of low-risk exercises.

Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old to start exercising.

Fact: You’re never too old to start exercising and improve your health! In fact, adults who take up exercise later in life often show greater physical and mental improvements than their younger counterparts. If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, you won’t be encumbered by the same sports injuries that many regular exercisers experience in later life. In other words, there aren’t as many miles on your clock so you’ll quickly start reaping the rewards. Just begin with gentle activities and build up from there.

Myth 5: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down.

Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics, chair yoga, and chair Tai Chi to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone and flexibility, and promote cardiovascular health. Many swimming pools offer access to wheelchair users and there are adaptive exercise programs for wheelchair sports such as basketball.

If you still need some inspiration, check out this list of fitties over fifty that’ve dedicated huge portions of their life to staying fit and encouraging others to do the same. It’ll be hard to sink back into the couch when you see these bodies!