Fact Vs. Fiction: Older Adults and Exercise

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Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to give up on exercise. But a lot of people do – just one out of four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercise on a regular basis. Many people assume that they’re too out of shape or sick or tired or just plain too old. Take our quiz and discover the truth about exercising as you age.

True or False: Trying to exercise and get healthy is useless – decline in old age is inevitable.


There’s a huge misunderstanding that getting older means getting decrepit. It doesn’t have to be true. There are people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s out there running marathons and becoming body-builders. We’re not saying you need to start training for such a serious endeavor, but 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. Exercise can improve more than your physical health. It has also been shown to boost memory and help prevent dementia. Exercise helps you maintain your independence and way of life. By staying strong and agile as you age, you’ll be more able to keep doing the things you enjoy and less likely to need help. 

True or False: Exercise isn’t safe for someone my age – I could fall and break a hip.


In fact, studies show that exercise can reduce your chances of a fall. Exercise builds strength, balance, and agility. Low impact exercises like yoga and tai chi may be especially helpful in improving balance. If you’re concerned about osteoporosis and weak bones, one of the best ways to strengthen them is with regular exercise.

True or False: Since I’m older, I need to check with my doctor before I exercise.


You shouldn’t begin a serious exercise regimen without consulting your physician, especially if you have a medical condition or you haven’t had a physical in a long time. Once you get the “go ahead” – remember to start slowly and don’t overdo it.

True or False: 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 might just be the best medicine! Of course, check with a doctor first, but chances are they will encourage you to exercise and it will probably help.

True or False: Since I never really exercised before, it’s too for it to make a difference in my health.


It may feel too late to make up for a lifetime of not exercising, but it’s not. Studies have found that even for 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 reduce the risk of health problems, such as diabetes and improve symptoms. It is absolutely never too late to start exercising.

True or False: Exercise will hurt my joints.


If you’re in chronic pain from arthritis, exercising may seem too painful. In fact, studies show that exercising actually helps with arthritis pain. One study of people over age 60 with knee arthritis found that those who exercised more had less pain and better joint function.

True or False: Gyms are for young people.


The gym scene can be intimidating for older people. But look around and 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.  They key is to find the right environment where you feel comfortable so you are more likely to continue. If the gym isn’t your thing, try getting a group of friends together for a daily walk. Exercise comes in many more forms than the gym – even an hour of gardening can be a great workout!