Think being fit over 50 means just being able to take a stroll around the block? Not sure if being fit over 50 makes a difference, or at what point an older adult should stop/reduce exercising? We’re here to break down some of the myths for being fit over 50 (and way beyond!) and show you some seniors who have really broken the mold with their amazing levels of fitness.
Fit Over 50: Six Myths About Exercising When Older
- Decline in old age is inevitable, so there’s no point in trying to get fit over 50. Truth: Muscle mass and strength generally decline with age, but exercise can counteract these changes. Many of the symptoms we often associate with old age are signs of inactivity (1/2 of all people over 65 are inactive and a very small % of those 85+ exercise, while scientists agree most anyone of any age can benefit from exercise).
- Exercise is unsafe for older adults and is likely to result in an injury/fall. Truth: Exercise actually helps prevent falls and injuries by increasing strength and balance. Exercise can help reduce bone loss, increase muscles strength and even boost memory and mood. At any age, exercise should be done properly/with caution but there’s no reason to assume an older adult can’t handle exercising safely.
- If you have a health problem, you shouldn’t exercise. Truth: Of course, you should meet with your doctor to discuss a new fitness routine if you have health issues (or notice problems when working out) but many health conditions (arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and more) can benefit from exercise.
- Exercise could cause a heart attack. Truth: The health benefits far exceed the small risk of having a heart problem due to exercise. Inactivity is more likely to contribute to a heart attack or ill health.
- Exercise is too hard on the joints. Truth: Exercise improves joint functioning and relieves pain for those with arthritis. This is not to deny that the pain of arthritis can make it hard to feel like exercising. Here are some good tips for exercising with arthritis.
- Fit over 50? Forget it, it’s too late to start exercising. Truth: The world’s oldest marathon runner started running when he was 89. Check out the examples below…some of them didn’t start until their later years and they’ve done amazing things.
Fit Over 50 Inspirations
The World’s Oldest Yoga Instructor: Fun, Free, Fit Over 50
Tao Porchon-Lynch is the world’s oldest yoga instructor (with the Guinness World Record to prove it!). The 97-year old has been practicing yoga for many years and is also a celebrated ballroom dancer. Her advice to others: “Don’t procrastinate. Don’t say, ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’. Tomorrow never comes.”
Breaking Boundaries for Being Fit Over 50: Marathoners and Body Builders
Fauja Singh is the world’s oldest marathon runner. He began running at age 89 to alleviate depression and holds a record in the 90+ category, as well as becoming the 1st 100 year old to complete a marathon. Harriette Thompson is the world’s oldest woman to complete a marathon, at age 92.
Ernestine Shepard is the world’s oldest female body builder. She was formally given the title of World’s Oldest Performing Female Body Builder in 2010 in Rome. At age 79, Ernestine is a personal trainer, competitive body builder and model and an inspiration to many. By no means a lifelong fitness buff, she’s a great example of “it’s never too late”…someone who lived a sedentary life before she became inspired to make a change at age 56. Check out Ernestine’s Facebook page for a dose of inspiration!
We meet many inspirational examples in daily life…older adults who take an active, positive approach to aging and are always willing to try new things. Join us (sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook) for continued Fit Over 5o inspiration, tips and more.