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Never Too Old For Strength Training.

STRENGTH TRAIN AT ANY AGE

Many of us visit our parents and do more of the same, sit, eat, chat and laugh. Most of us don't even think about getting them out and about to exercise, thinking that they are too old and feeble to go for a walk in the park or a stroll at the mall. But all that coddling may be just what's holding them back from leading a happier, fuller, healthier life. After all, you are never to old for strength training. And it's never too late to start. 

Our elderly are just that, elderly. They can still be challenged to exercise and do all sorts of things. If they can move get them up and moving. A day out in the fresh air playing simple games when the weather is fine may be just what the doctor ordered. After already leading a sedentary lifestyle it may be time to get them up and moving again.

Many aging adults think that they are too out-of-shape, too sick, too tired, or just plain too old for physical activities like strength training. But nothing could be further from the truth! "

Exercise is almost always good for people of any age,” says Chhanda Dutta, PhD, chief of the Clinical Gerontology Branch at the National Institute on Aging. Exercise can help make you stronger, prevent bone loss, and improve balance and coordination. It can also lift your mood, boost your memory, and ease the symptoms of many chronic conditions.

NEVER TOO OLD FOR STRENGTH TRAINING

With only one in four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercising on a regular basis, one can’t help but wonder if we are allowing old myths to keep us from pushing ourselves and our elderly to workout. Here are some common myths that stop older people from exercising — along with some expert advice to get them on the road to a healthier, fitter lifestyle.

NEVER TOO OLD FOR STRENGTH TRAINING

Exercise Myth #1: Trying to exercise and get healthy is pointless — decline in old age is inevitable.

“There’s a powerful myth that getting older means getting decrepit,” says Dutta. “It’s not true. Some people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are out there running marathons and becoming body-builders.” A lot of the symptoms that we associate with old age — such as weakness and loss of balance — are actually symptoms of inactivity, not age, says Alicia I. Arbaje, MD, MPH, (assistant professor of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins University).

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

In fact, studies show that exercise can reduce your chances of a fall. Exercise builds strength, balance, and agility.

Exercises like tai chi may be especially helpful to improve balance.

If your worried about osteoporosis and weak bones one of the best ways to strengthen them is with regular exercise.

Exercise improves more than just your physical health:
  • It can boost the memory and help prevent dementia.
  • It can help you maintain your independence and way of life.
  • And 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.
NEVER TOO OLD FOR STRENGTH TRAINING

Exercise Myth #3: Since I’m older, I need to check with my doctor before I exercise.

If you have a medical condition or any unexplained symptoms or you haven’t had a physical in a long time, check with your doctor before you start exercising. Otherwise, go ahead. “People don’t need to check with a doctor before they exercise just because they’re older,” says Dutta. Just go slowly and don’t overdo it.

Exercise Myth #4: I’m sick, 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 almost like a silver bullet for lots of health problems,” says Arbaje. “For many people, exercise can do as much if not more good than the 5 to 10 medications they take every day

Exercise Myth #5: I’m afraid I might have a heart attack.

We have all heard about people who have had heart attacks while working out. Although it can happen, the many health benefits of exercise far exceed the small risk of having a heart attack. “Being a couch potato is actually more dangerous than being physically active,” says Dutta. “That’s true for the risk of heart disease and many other conditions.” 

Exercise Myth #6: I never really exercised before–it’s too late to make a difference in my health.

Studies have found that even people in their nineties living in nursing homes, starting an exercise routine can boost muscle strength. Other research shows that starting exercise late in life can still cut the risk of health problems — such as diabetes –and improve symptoms. It’s never too late to start exercising and reaping the benefits.

Exercise Myth #7: Exercise will hurt my joints.

If you’re in chronic pain from arthritis, exercising may seem too painful. Here's a counter-intuitive fact: studies show that exercising helps with arthritis pain. One study of people over the age of 60 with knee arthritis found that those who exercised more had less pain and better joint function. 

NEVER TOO OLD FOR STRENGTH TRAINING

Exercise Myth #8: I don't have time.

This is a myth that's common in all age groups. Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. That might sound like a lot but actually, it's only a little over 20 minutes a day. What's more, you don't have to do it all in one chunk. You can split it up. For instance, take a 10-minute walk in the morning and pedal on a stationary bike for 15 minutes in the evening -- you're done.

Exercise Myth #9: I'm too weak to start exercising.

Maybe you just recovered from an illness or surgery and are feeling too weak even 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. Soon you will be able to take a few classes like strength training,  as your never too old for strength training. 

Exercise Myth #10: 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," says Arbaje. If you're in a wheelchair, you can use your arms to get an aerobic workout and build strength. Even people who are bedridden can find ways to exercise, she says. Talk to a doctor or a physical therapist about ways you can modify exercises to work around your disability.

Exercise Myth #11: I can't afford it--I don't have the budget to join a gym or buy equipment.

Gym memberships and home treadmills can be pricey. Still, that's no reason to skip exercising, Dutta says. You can exercise for free as walking doesn't cost anything. Look into free demonstration classes at your local senior center. If you want to lift weights at home, use soup cans or milk jugs filled with sand. Use your dining room chair for exercises that improve balance and flexibility. If you have a health problem, insurance may cover a few sessions with a physical trainer or an occupational therapist. There are many ways to get fit with little to no cost at all. 

NEVER TOO OLD TO START STRENGTH TRAINING
Exercise Myth #12: Gyms are for young people.

"The gym scene can be intimidating for older people," says Dutta. Look to see if gyms in your area have offerings for seniors or people new to exercise. If you're retired, try going in the middle of the day, so you can avoid the before and after-work rush. "Find an environment where you feel comfortable exercising," says Arbaje.

Exercise Myth #13: Exercise is boring.

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 is catching up with a friend while you walk the mall, or taking a dance class. And don't forget; chasing after your grandchildren is considered exercise as well as gardening and raking the leaves. You might also want to try volunteering at your local school or park as that's also physical activity. "And don't forget about sex," Arbaje says. "That's good exercise too. The type of exercise doesn't matter, The key is to figure out something you enjoy doing and do it. When you get tired of it, try something new. The best exercise is the one that you actually do." 

Jan Mai 

Chief Content Officer based in South Florida​

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did as there are some wonderful ways for you to get your loved ones up and moving. Let's not give into old age nor accept that it is inevitable. The next time you go to visit your elderly loved ones try something different. Let's get them up and moving by taking them for a walk after dinner, or even better get them to join the gym, go with them for a while until they get into a routine. It's never too late to start lifting weights and using all the facilities a gym has to offer. For more interesting ways get those you care about exercising again download our free ebook

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