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  • Writer's pictureGav O'Brien

The Truth Behind The Myths Of Exercising & Ageing

Updated: Mar 1

Debunking the myths surrounding exercise for the older adult

Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be a challenge at any age. You may feel that certain health problems, aches and pains, rule you out completely. Perhaps you’re worried about trips and falls, or you have limited mobility through injury, illness or medical conditions. If you’ve never exercised before, you may not know where to begin, or perhaps you think you’re too old or frail. Myths around starting exercise may resonate with your own beliefs. Here then is the truth behind the myths of exercising and ageing.

Exercise & Aging Myth no.1

>> There’s no point to exercise as I’m too old anyway

TRUTH: You’re never too old to gain a host of benefits from beginning regular exercise. Aerobic exercise and strength training exercise can help you look good and feel great as well as enabling you to stay active for longer, making activities for everyday living much easier. Regular exercise lowers your risk for many age-related medical conditions, including dementia, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, some cancers and obesity. So take inspiration from one of my clients. Early in 2020, he contacted me as he’d noticed that ‘things were slowing down’ for him. He decided that he needed a personal trainer, at the young age of 97.

Exercise & Aging Myth no.2

>> Older people shouldn’t exercise at all and it’s far better that they save their energy and rest

TRUTH: There’s an enormous amount of scientific research that has shown a sedentary lifestyle is really unhealthy for older people. In-fact inactivity often causes seniors to lose the ability to do certain things on their own and can lead to frequent hospitalisations from falling over as well as the increased usage of medication to control illnesses and age-related medical conditions.

Exercise & Aging Myth no.3

>> Regular exercise can increase my risk of trips and of falling over

TRUTH: Regular exercise that includes strength and endurance exercises prevents loss of bone mass and improves flexibility and by adding balance exercises in the mix will actually reduce your risk of injury from trips and from falling over.

Exercise & Aging Myth no.4

>> I have an impairment to my mobility and or I use a wheelchair, I can’t exercise sitting down

TRUTH: Chair bound adults do face certain challenges but you can lift light weights such as dumbbells as well as using resistance bands and do chairbased aerobics to increase your range of movement, improve your muscle tone, improve your flexibility and promote better cardiovascular health.

Exercise & Aging Myth no.5

>> I’m too unfit to go to an exercise class

TRUTH: Exercising in your home is good but exercising with others can actually be more motivating and fun. Right across the UK (when not in lockdown), there are scores of organisations of all types offering an astonishing range of exercise classes. Age UK for an example of a national charity that offers classes, and there is also Move It or Lose It a national company that offers keep fit classes for older people.

Exercise & Aging Myth no.6

>> I walk for half an hour each day, so it’s okay for me to be a couch potato the rest of the day

TRUTH: Research has shown that even if you get the recommended amount of daily exercise your general health can still suffer if you sit down the rest of the time. Change your sedentary habits to incorporate much more movement, for example, by lifting light weights while you watch TV, walking around while talking on the phone, or meet a friend for a walk outdoors rather than sitting in a chair to chat over tea. Aim to be active on at least 5-days a week.

Tips for keeping motivated to exercise

Sometimes life has a habit of getting in the way and keeping motivated to do exercise after illness, injury and even the weather has interrupted your established exercise routines, you can find yourself right back to square one. Here are a few tips to help you get back your motivation to start exercising again:

Set short-term goals – By focussing on short-term goals, for example, increasing your energy levels, improving your mood rather than larger goals, for example, losing a lot of weight, which is likely to take a longer time, some quick wins can really help you commit for the longer term.

Rewards for making progressWhen you’ve completed a challenge that you’ve set yourself, don’t just ignore your success, reward yourself perhaps with your favourite non-alcoholic tipple, a nice long relaxing hot bath or a day out.

Enlist support – Encourage and motivate each other by working out with a partner, friend or member of your family. Share your achievements on social media so that your-extended circle of family and friends can offer you their encouragement and support too.

Keep a journal – Writing down your activities in an exercise journal not only holds you accountable but is also a reminder of your accomplishments. Take photos as well, before and after shots can be a great way to help you keep motivation to maintain the new slimmer and fitter you. Again, share these on social media and you may even inspire others to follow your example. If you like technology and using gadgets then FitBit has some good options that will help track your activity, such as the number of steps you’ve walked.

Hire a personal trainer – If you don’t know where to start or simply lack the motivation, then a personal trainer can really help you achieve your health and fitness goals like me! I offer personal training, small group training in my private gym studio in Turre and aqua fitness in your swimming pool.

Please email or call +34 711 03 22 44 for more information.

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