In Part I of this series we discussed the importance of exercise and its many physical and mental benefits for the older population. To briefly recapitulate, we noted that exercise helps older adults maintain or lose weight; reduces the impact of illness and chronic disease; enhances mobility, flexibility, and balance; improves sleep quality; boosts mood and self-confidence; and, is good for the brain.

In today’s Post I’d like to address the 5 major myths related to exercise and aging.

  • 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, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.
  • 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.
  • Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old to start exercising.
  • Fact: You’re never too old to exercise! If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities.
  • 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 to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.

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. Exercise can even reverse some of the symptoms of aging. And not only is exercise good for your body, it’s also good for your mind, mood, and memory. Whether you are generally healthy or are managing an illness, there are plenty of ways to get more active, improve confidence, and boost your fitness.

One of the greatest testaments to the value of fitness and its possibilities at any age was the legendary “King of Fitness” himself, Jack LaLanne, who lived to a robust 96 years of age. At the age of 54 he challenged a then 21 year-old- Arnold Schwarzenegger to keep up with him during one of his workouts and Schwarzenegger was forced to concede defeat. In 1980 at the age of age 66, he towed 10 boats carrying 77 people in North Miami, Florida for over a mile in less than an hour. Not to be outdone (especially by himself), in 1984 he celebrated his 70th birthday by towing 70 rowboats filled with people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary – a distance of one mile. Oh yes … he did it while handcuffed, shackled, and fighting strong winds and currents.

While we may not all be capable nor even aspire to such awe inspiring feats as Jack accomplished, there’s much that Seniors can do do to ensure healthy, fit and productive golden years. As a provider of in-home care services, we are acutely aware of the need for exercise for our elderly clients. Our caregivers who provide the assistance, will monitor and help our clients do their exercises.  This along with all the other services we perform enables our clients to continue to safe  and healthy lives in their homes. Our next post will focus on the four main types of exercise.