Over 50 and want to get fit? Don't believe these 5 myths

Over 50 and want to get fit? Don't believe these 5 myths

Myth: Strength training will make me bulky and immobile

This is something women in particular worry about – but they shouldn’t, especially since strength training is key for health and weight loss. “It’s critical not to confuse strength training with bodybuilding,” says Dr Jonathan Sullivan. “Bodybuilding is a sport focused on producing an extreme hyper-muscular physique for competitive or aesthetic purposes. Strength training is directed at the cultivation of strength, fitness, and health.” For the vast majority of women, even heavy-lifting will only tone their bodies.

And they desperately need to lift, “Women lose muscle, bone, and strength faster than men, making weight training a critical part of any woman’s fitness program. Women can and should engage in training, including strength training, with the same exercises and programs that benefit men,” explains Dr Sullivan.

Myth: I can’t get stronger

Not only can you maintain strength at 50-plus, but you can also be stronger than your younger self. “Too many people change their workout routine with age to include low resistance exercise under the guise that they can’t improve anyway,” says McCann. “While it might take more time, your muscles will still adapt under strength work loading to improve in strength.” The key to this, along with a healthy diet, is regular exercise.

Myth: As I get older, I should avoid pain when exercising

“It may be true that there are certain types of pain you should avoid with exercise,” says personal trainer, Paul Gardner. Chest pain is an obvious one, for example. “However, to achieve gains in strength and endurance, your muscles must be overloaded,” he says. “A byproduct of overloading muscles at any age is muscle soreness and sometimes mild joint aches and discomfort.” And that’s a healthy type of pain.

Myth: I’m skipping exercise because I want to keep my mind fit

Physical exercise has benefits that go far beyond your muscles, lungs, and heart. Plus, there’s a reason people say, healthy body, healthy mind. “Working out has significant positive effects on the brain, too,” says Bell. “There’s growing evidence that being physically active benefits brain health and can help slow the decline in brain function that comes with age.”

Myth: Exercise is too risky – I might fall

There’s always anxiety over trying something new but don’t let fear stop you. “A physical therapist can develop a balance-and-exercise program tailored to your individual goals and abilities, and gradually build your confidence, along with your balance, strength, and endurance,” says physiotherapist, Greg Hartley. “These improvements go a long way towards decreasing your falls risk.”

Written by Sharon Feiereisen. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.

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