3 Age-Related Exercise Myths That Hold You Back: Do You Believe Them?
It’s been 24 years since I earned my first of four personal training certifications in 1995. As I proudly displayed the American Council of Exercise (ACE) certificate on my wall, I thought I had all I needed to help people get fit.
I vowed to motivate, inspire, and heroically save the world from flabby triceps, weak abs, and jiggly thighs!
I would be a fitness superhero, fighting off the bad habits of the planet, armed with fitness tubing, dumbbells, and a yoga mat, carried on the shoulders of the people I’d helped.
The Lessons I Learned
Excuse me while I partake in a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
Oh, the fantasies of youth! It should be so easy.
After working with people (mostly women) for over 20 years, I’ve learned a thing or two as I near my 60th birthday.
One is this: No one can motivate another person until they make up their minds to make a commitment.
Another eye-opener is this: Yes, things do change as we age, even when we do all the right things.
You simply can’t fool Mother Nature.
However, the worst thing you can do is blame aging as an excuse to stop exercising altogether.
Age Is Not the Problem
Truth is, unless you’re in a full body cast suspended from the ceiling, you can almost always do something.
Clearly, I’m not advocating doing anything beyond your abilities, but we often limit ourselves when inactivity can actually worsen the situation.
Case in point: I have knee arthritis. It hurts. I hate it, and yes, my knee pain has put the kibosh on some of the activities I’d like to do.
Walking lunges and high-impact jumps are a long-forgotten fantasy.
Let’s have a moment of silence for those days.
But if I stay within a modified range of motion and stick with exercises that don’t aggravate it, I can still do a lot. So, I do what I can and stop focusing on what I can no longer do.
When I don’t move, it hurts more. Research shows I’m not alone. In fact, regular exercise reduces the risk of limitations associated with knee osteoarthritis.
With this in mind, here are the top three excuses I hear most often that can sabotage results and health.
#1 Myth: I’m Too Tired to Work Out
Fatigue is definitely more of a thing as we age. It takes more energy to perform the same activities and hence, we need more recovery time. It has to do with changes in the workings of our cells, which are too complicated to get into here.
And while you need to listen to your body and give yourself more rest days between workouts, overall, exercise gives you energy. Regular, low-intensity exercise boosts energy levels.
Here’s how it works: For one, exercise increases blood flow through your body and boosts cardiovascular health. This allows more blood and oxygen to provide energy for work.
Numerous studies show this time and again. The best way to experience the results is to try it yourself. Track your energy on days you exercise versus days you do not and let the results speak for themselves.
#2 Myth: Avoid Balance Exercises if You Feel Wobbly
A reader recently wrote to me saying she can’t do certain exercises because she has such poor balance.
The problem is, if you stop doing things that challenge your balance, your balance will get worse. Breaking a hip or other bone is no joke. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, either.
The bottom line: Working on your balance is a crucial part of any workout plan.
Here are a couple of ways to get steadier:
- Stand on one foot and time yourself for 5 – 10 seconds (stand near a stable object or wall if you’re wobbly). Switch feet. You can do this while talking on the phone, standing at the sink or while waiting for the microwave to beep.
- Incorporate exercises that challenge your balance, such as the bird dog or one-legged biceps curls. Over time you’ll start to see improvements.
#3 Myth: If You’re Feeling Achy, Skip Your Workout
Ah, a subject near and dear to my heart… Arthritis and joint pain is a Catch-22. It may hurt a bit to get moving, but if you don’t move, it will get worse.
Movement keeps joints mobile by circulating the fluid that lubricates them. If you stop moving, you get stiff.
What can you do to ease the discomfort? Here are a few tips:
- Schedule workouts for those times when you’re not as stiff. If you’re achy in the morning, wait until later in the day to exercise when your body is warmed up.
- Find ways to compensate. If doing an exercise in a specific way hurts your hands, or knees, for example, look for ways to modify the exercise.
- Use compression gear or equipment designed to ease arthritis symptoms. You can find support accessories for just about every joint and body part, from elbows to calves and gloves for your hands.
What excuses will you put aside in the coming year? How will you use these tips to get you going? Let’s chat!