Being over 50 isn’t too late to get in shape. Here’s a look at myths you should never believe about fitness at mid-life.
Myth: I haven’t exercised my whole life—it’s too late to start
The one thing to remember is that you’re never too old to start exercising. “There is no expiration date on our body’s ability to benefit from physical activity,” says Alice Bell, PT, DPT, a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Geriatric Physical Therapy, and American Physical Therapy Association spokeswoman. “Studies show that individuals who adopt an active lifestyle at any age can demonstrate improvements in strength, endurance, balance, and cognitive performance.” Plus, you might soon come to love fitness.
Myth: I shouldn’t run anymore
A sedentary person shouldn’t attempt a marathon overnight—or even a 5K. But regular runners don’t have to stop just because they’re getting older. Running is fantastic for cardiovascular health and mental clarity. “People say that running is too hard on your joints and should be avoided, particularly as you age, however, there are many people who run well into their older age and continue to see benefit without issues,” says Chad McCann, DPT, CSCS. “While the choice to run should be individual, there is little indication that running leads to arthritis or joint damage. Some people can continue to run successfully as they age, although their distances and intensity may change to promote health.” Wearing the right shoes is key to preventing injury—here’s how to choose the perfect pair.
Myth: Walking is enough
Walking is great. Even fitness powerhouse Kayla Itsines swears by it, but your body needs more. “The greatest long-term benefits of exercise stem from working your body into overload, meaning pushing strength, flexibility, and cardio conditioning to force your body to adapt to more stressful requirements,” explains McCann. “While there is research connecting some walking to basic heart health, walking alone does not stress your heart enough to create true cardiovascular improvement.” Try building in some intervals—short bursts of fast walking or jogging—into your walks, and make time for strength training as well, he says. If you’re not a fan of running, try these 10 calorie-busting exercises instead.