I frequently have patients tell me about encounters with healthcare providers who dismiss their complaint with a flippant “you are just getting old.” Now, that may be true, but we can’t give in that easily. Let’s take a quick look at some ideas we need to let go as we age.
Myth 1: “I am old. There is nothing I can do about ____”
Moving more and getting stronger can help stave off age related decline, such as decreased muscle mass, slower reaction times, and joints with a lifetime of wear-and-tear. While not pretty, these are actually the reasons to increase intentional activity. It takes hard work to maintain and improve our wellbeing, but it is an attainable goal. If you don’t know where to start, find an exercise professional who specializes in training older adults. Giving up is not an option. Well, not a good one.
Myth 2: “I will feel better tomorrow”
It may have started out with an illness, and you were too worn out to go on your favorite walk. You took a break to recover, and never started back. Now, you plan your outings according to the benches on the way. On top of that, your knee started hurting more, so, you just choose Amazon Prime.
Unfortunately, resting up to feel better tomorrow is a vicious cycle. It is insidious, but your world starts to shrink. As we age, our ability to recover from illness and injury is compromised, and lost strength and endurance is frequently not fully regained. Think about the things you are choosing not to do and ask yourself why. Would it be worth committing to exercise to get back to it?
Myth 3: “It is too late to start”
You have never lifted weights? It’s not the only way to get stronger.
You don’t know what to do? Find a class — there is something for everyone.
You can only walk for 5 minutes? That leaves room for improvement!
Muscles are muscles no matter what their age. You may have to start slowly and take precautions to perform exercise safely, but your body will respond! If you lift heavy (for you) things, you will get stronger. If you build slowly, you will be able to go longer. Throw in easier daily tasks, improved mood and sleep, and decreased pain — it’s not too late for all that, now, is it!?
Do not let age prevent you from being active. Don’t accept your pain, your trouble walking, or your weakness as inevitable. If you do nothing, nothing will get better. So get moving and get myth-busting!
Tiffany Salido is a doctor of physical therapy and owner of The Movement Joint, a wellness studio offering safe, PT-led exercise classes individualized for people with joint and muscle pain, weakness, balance problems, fatigue, and mobility difficulties, or who want personalized guidance to begin their fitness journey. Find out more at themovementjoint.com or call (828) 680-0422.