We’ve all done it – come up with an excuse for not exercising. As we get older, the list of excuses can easily grow in length until we’ve pretty much given up the idea all together. Today, guest blogger, Matthew B. Candelaria, breaks down the seven most common excuses that keep us from exercising and helps us get moving!
Don’t Let These 7 Myths Keep You from Exercising in Your 50s, 60s, and Beyond
If you’re aging and thinking that maybe you’d like to start exercising, but there are many reasons why you can’t, chances are those aren’t reasons, they’re myths. Push these 7 myths out of the way, and start exercising today for a healthier, happier life.
Exercise Can’t Keep Me Young, So What’s the Point?
Actually, exercise can keep you young, kind of. Time marches on, but age isn’t just about time. Many of the problems of old age stem not from your chronological years, but from your level of activity.
Physical symptoms such as weakness, loss of balance, heart disease, and diabetes are all associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Many psychological symptoms, such as dementia, memory loss, and depression (see below) are also associated with a sedentary life.
(Bonus tip: Many people who start exercising when older are surprised to find they’re in better shape and feeling younger than they did when they actually were young.)
Life’s Too Short to Waste It Exercising
You may think you only have a short time left and you’d rather enjoy it than spend it with exercising, which is boring.
The truth is that not only can exercise be enjoyable, but it can expand your ability to enjoy the rest of your life. All exercise counts, so long as you do it, so try to find an exercise that you enjoy.
If you start exercising regularly, you will be surprised at the effect of mood-boosting endorphins. You’ll also likely sleep better, and who doesn’t feel better after a good night’s sleep.
Most importantly, exercise can lengthen your life, so you’ll have more time to enjoy everything (and, yes, that includes exercise).
(Bonus tip: Exercises that many people think are fun include sports, dancing, and sex.)
I Have to Conserve My Strength
Not true. Many people think that their age inherently makes them feeble, and that they only have a limited amount of energy in their lives, but this is far from true.
Exercise can help you gain strength. Even if you’re sick–especially if you have chronic health conditions–exercise can improve your health.
I Have Arthritis (Or I’m Disabled) So I Can’t Exercise
Many people avoid exercise because they have pain in their joints. Ironically, research shows that exercise can actually diminish joint pain.
Being disabled is also no barrier to exercise. You may just have to do different exercises. You can still strengthen the muscles that work, including your heart, the most important muscle of all.
Exercise Puts Me at Risk for Falling or Having a Heart Attack
Exercise will actually reduce your risk of falling. It will increase your strength and your balance so that you’re better able to stand and walk without falling.
The same is true of a heart attack. Exercise strengthens your heart and can reduce your risk of heart attack.
The key to overcoming both of these risks is to start slow and work your way up.
(Bonus tip: Make sure you have properly fitting dentures to reduce your risk of falling.)
Exercise Is Too Expensive
Exercise doesn’t have to cost you anything but time. You don’t have to join a gym to start exercising or buy a single piece of exercise equipment. All you have to do is get out and do it. Walk to the end of the block and back. Do leg lifts, stretches, and more with no equipment.
(Bonus tip: You can even start weight training using groceries. Everything already has the weight on it, just lift, repeat, and move up to heavier objects as you get stronger.)
I’ll Look Silly if I Exercise
The thought of exercising may make you nervous if you imagine that more fit people may snicker at your starting efforts. You can avoid this by not going to gyms that cater to young people and the hyper-fit. Instead, exercise at places where people of your age and activity level gather.
If you’re having trouble, sign up for an age- and activity level-appropriate class at your local rec center. Chances are, someone there will be able to clue you in to the local hot spots.
If you’re still too nervous, you can start exercising in your home until you build up confidence.
(Bonus tip: At this age, you’ve earned the right to ignore what everyone else thinks.)
Hopefully, dispelling all these myths can help you get out and exercise now.
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Matthew B. Candelaria (PhD, U of Kansas 2006) takes passion in helping people overcome the pitfalls associated with age. However, he probably doesn’t exercise as much as he should outside of chasing his cats, kids, and fetching the morning paper.