Hi. Thanks for stopping by today. I am your host, Lynn Kennedy Baxter, registered nurse, psychotherapist and author of www.Make Exercise Easy.com and stand in for the Fairy Godmother of Fitness.
Our question today is: Am I ever too old to exercise? The short answer is, “No.” I saw the answer to this question when my 90-year-old father fell and broke his hip. He had surgery to pin his hip, recovered and went to rehab. When he started exercising on the recumbent bike, he could cycle for about 5 minutes at low resistance. Within 2 -3 weeks he could cycle for 20 minutes at the same level of resistance. His body adapted, he became stronger and had more endurance even at his advanced age. He went home from rehab and lived another year.
You do need to respect the condition of your body when you start to exercise, especially if you have been a couch potato. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, but make sure that your doctor is well informed about exercise.
Start slowly and keep going. It takes more time for your body to adapt when you are older. For every decade after 30, it takes your body about 40% more time and effort to adapt. What does this mean? At age 30 it will take a person about 15 workouts to move from the startup phase of exercise to the growth phase. By age 50 it takes that same couch potato body 27 works outs to accomplish the same level. Be patient and respectful of your body and your body will get there!
Low impact exercise is also best for your body as you get older. Use common sense. Walk. Swim. Cycle. Rock in the rocking chair. Use the stair climber.
Strength training is excellent to counter act the loss of muscle mass associated with aging, but be smart about it. Arthritic joints will feel better with exercise, but they need lower weights and more reps to avoid injury. After my knee replacement, I still do lower leg extensions, but with much lower weights and more reps to protect that replacement.
I watched a friend of mine, Greg, ignore his limitations. He was a body builder in his youth and did squats with a lot of weight. That eventually trashed his hips, so he ended up with 2 hip replacements in his late 50’s. He went back to the fitness club after he healed from surgery, which was a good thing, but acted like he was still 25 years old doing squats with lots of weight. His chiropractor, who happened to work out in the same fitness club, saw him and cautioned him that he needed to back off. I personally think Greg was in denial or maybe just very stubborn, because he continued doing squats – until he damaged his hip replacements and needed more medical care.
Exercise is good for almost any medical condition – as long as you are smart about it. After a heart attack, patients go to cardiac rehab where they exercise with supervision. Cancer patients do much better in chemo and radiation treatment, when they exercise moderately. You may have read that arthritic joints feel better with low impact, low resistance exercise.
You are never too old to become a certified-fantastic fitness fan. Sign up for our emails (link) to help you enjoy the journey. Thanks for stopping by MakeExerciseEasy.com.