Myth #5 : I’m too old to do exercise

Hello everybody! Welcome back to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to help people find their way to a healthier lifestyle. I mostly talk about exercise, nutrition and the science behind them, which are my areas of expertise, but I also talk about sleeping habits, minimalism and many other subjects related to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle. 

One of the things I’ve heard the most when I’ve talked to older people about exercise is: I’m too old. I’m too old to start, I’m too old to get back to doing exercise, I’m too old to do resistance training, etcetera. What worries me most is that these people are not as old as you may imagine. They’re in their 40s or 50s.

In today’s post I want to debunk this myth by giving you 4 reasons why exercise is essential for healthy elderly people, and why it’s important to start NOW even though you’ve never done it before.

Bone density enhancement and osteoporosis prevention.

Despite the fact that people who start doing exercise at a young age have a better bone density as they grow up than people who start doing exercise later in life, many studies have proved how exercising improves bone density in the elderly. No matter how old you are or how late you think it is for you to enhance bone density, starting right now will help you to prevent all the consequences of having weak bones (it’s easier to fracture or break a bone doing simple movements such as bending or even coughing if there is bone density loss).

Resistance training and impact training are the “must do” exercises for improving bone density. Examples of the best exercises are running and CrossFit, followed by nordic walking, fast walking, bodyweight training. Exercises such as swimming or cycling are great but perhaps not the ones that improve bone density the most.

Muscular strength.

Bones and muscle are directly attached to each other by tendons. Therefore, there’s a lot of factors that affect both the bones and the muscles. Exercising will enhance muscle strength, especially resistance training. When we don’t do exercise our muscles get weaker, which has an impact in our bones as well. At the age of 35 we lose our muscle strength at a rate of 1-2% per year. Once we turn 60, the rate goes up to 3% per year. This is a process called sarcopenia. A couple of weeks ago I did a little introduction about sarcopenia: what is it, how it affects us, and how we can prevent it. Have a look at it!

Menopause.

It’s not the first time we talk about menopause in this blog. Every women should have the choice to be a mum, a CEO, to marry a woman or a man, or to be single her whole life, but there’s something that all women who reach the age of 45-55 will have to go through: menopause.

For many women, this is a moment of fear, confusion, feeling misunderstood, or even lonely. Perhaps society is guilty of having all these preconceived ideas around menopause. The truth is that many other women see this moment of their life as an achievement. They made it all the way there, and there’s so much more they can do from that moment without worrying about taking contraceptives, or going through their periods, or getting pregnant. Some of these women focus on their careers, their family, they start new hobbies, and much more. To be able to do all this, they need a strong body to support them.

As I mentioned before, when we hit the age of 35 we lose muscle strength at a rate of 1-2% per year and it increases to up to 3% per year when we turn 60. For a women though these numbers go way up when going through menopause, making it absolutely essential to include exercise and particularly strength exercise to ensure a good quality of life.

Social relationships.

One of the ingredients to guarantee a long, healthy and happy life is your social interactions. Socialising improves your mood, increases the release of dopamine and oxytocin (known as the love hormone), improves your social skills, and overall enhances health. Exercising is a great way to socialise when you join a group class, or you exercise with your partner or friends. It can also help to build new social relationships.

People who have a strong connection with people whether that is through family, friends or being part of a community have better quality of life than those who live by themselves and barely socialise, perhaps because they don’t suffer from many of the psychological issues that come from loneliness such as depression or anxiety.

Last but not least, what defines when you’re old is not your age but your perception of it. If you’re 40 and you feel old, your brain will get this message and will act as an old person, making it very difficult for you to stand up from the sofa and go for a brisk walk. The people who are diligent about doing exercise and have a healthier lifestyle tend to be the ones who don’t feel old despite their age. Like American Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, doctor of medicine and pioneer in proving the benefits of aerobic exercise in health, once said: “We do not stop exercising because we grow old – we grow old because we stop exercising.” Doctor Cooper is currently 91 years old.

It’s amazing how our perception of our own age changes the way we treat ourselves, including the messages we send to ourselves that tell us what we can or can’t do. I babysit a little boy who always tells me about this woman who used to ride her bike until the age of 100. She was one of the oldest people of all times.

That’s it for today! I really hope that you enjoy it. If you like what I do and you want to support this project, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and comment! Should you have feedback you’d like to leave, a comment to share with me, or a cool idea for a post, send me an email to sanchisayslifestyle@gmail.com

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