Five myths about activity and aging
Too old to exercise? There’s no such thing! It’s time to dispel the top five myths about activity and aging.
Have you fallen into the trap of believing you are too old to exercise? Don’t! The reasons you have been avoiding it are more than likely just myths. It’s time to reveal the truth so that you can enjoy the health benefits of physical exercise, whatever your age.
“There’s no point in exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.”
We’re all getting older with every second of every day. While it’s easy to look at the negatives though, try looking at the positives – healthcare is continually improving along with the average life expectancy. You could be around a lot longer than you realise! No matter what stage of your life you are at though, quality is always the most important thing and we should all – regardless of age – be doing what we can to enjoy our time here. Regular movement workouts helps you look and feel younger and stay independent longer. Many older people find that regular activity not only helps stem the decline in strength and vitality that comes with age, but actually improves it.1
“Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.”
Actually, it’s the exact opposite. Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling. The NHS recommends doing regular strength and balance exercises such as walking or dancing, which can be done at home, or in a gym or local community centre.2 Your doctor may also be able to advise you on support available in your local area.
“It’s too frustrating; I’ll never be the athlete I once was.”
This is a tricky one as there may be some truth to it, but so what? Does it really matter if you aren’t as quick or strong as you were when you were younger? As you age, exercise becomes less about being able to outperform others and more about becoming the best version of yourself. Sure, you might not be on the same level you were when you were younger, but by exercising now you can still be a stronger, fitter, healthier version of yourself in the present. What do you want to achieve? If it’s a certain number of reps, or a certain speed to complete an activity, that’s fine. You can still set yourself these targets and in fact, they are a great way to track your progress. Just be sure to set lifestyle goals that are appropriate for your age and remember: a sedentary lifestyle takes a much greater toll on your athletic ability than biological aging will.
“I’m too old to start exercising.”
You’re never too old. Just look at the likes of Iva Barr, who was the oldest runner of the London Marathon in 2016 when she took on the event at the age of 88! Don’t worry – you don’t have to commit to something so demanding, but it just goes to show that you really can exercise at any age. You might need to make adjustments if you are new to exercise, or have any underlying health concerns, but this applies to those many years younger than you too. What’s more, adults who become active later in life often show greater physical and mental improvements than their younger counterparts who have suffered sports injuries and ‘overdone’ things earlier in life! As with any form of new exercise or movement workout though, always start slowly and gradually.
“I can’t exercise because I’m disabled”
Disabilities do of course pose extra challenges, but many exercises can be adapted and for most people who wish to be active, there will always be something that they can do. If you are chair bound, you might still be able to lift weights, perform stretches and take part in chair-based fitness classes like chair yoga and chair aerobics, for example. Swimming pools offer another good option for people with disabilities as your body becomes lighter in water and many pools offer chairs, hoists and ramps to help you in and out of the water.
As we age, it becomes more important than ever to ensure we follow an active, healthy lifestyle. It’s time to brush off the myths that might have been preventing you from exercising and get moving to boost your energy, maintain your independence and enjoy all the health benefits that physical exercise has to offer. If you have any health issues, don’t forget to speak to your physician before starting a new exercise routine.