Exercise myths aging women should ignore

Monday September 10, 2012 10:25 AM

Fatigue and minor aches and pains that often come with aging can make exercise seem like a wrong activity for older women to partake in. While every woman should discuss her specific physical condition with a physician, especially if those aches and pains are persistent, adopting a sedentary lifestyle is not likely to make things better.

The misconception that aging women should save their strength and rest is one of the many myths associated with exercise and older women. The following are a few of the more popular myths that many women would be better off ignoring.

Exercise is for younger women, I need to rest. A sedentary lifestyle isn't healthy for anyone, and aging women are no exception. When aging women are inactive, their ability to do things for themselves and on their own decreases. This includes daily and relatively simple tasks like watering the plants or taking the dog for a walk, or more strenuous activities like playing with their grandchildren. Even if you can't go jogging like you used to, that doesn't mean you won't still benefit from less difficult exercises.

Exercise increases my risk of injury. Aging women might fear that the more they exercise, the more they may fall and suffer a serious injury. However, the opposite is true. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and prevents bone loss while improving balance. This means aging women who exercise are less likely to fall. Even if you do fall, your bones will be stronger and more capable of handling a fall than an older woman who does not exercise at all.

I'm disabled so exercise is pointless. Aging women benefit from exercise, even those women who might be disabled. Even if you need a wheelchair to get around, that doesn't mean you won't still benefit from routine exercise. Women in wheelchairs can still do cardiovascular exercises, stretch and even lift light weights. Such activities can reduce risk of heart disease while improving muscle tone and increasing range of motion.

It's too late to begin a new exercise regimen. It's never too late for anyone, including aging women, to begin a new exercise regimen. If it's been awhile since you last laced up your sneakers, start light with a walk around the neighborhood and other activities that won't elevate your heart rate or prove overly taxing. As your body gradually gets acclimated to exercise, you can up the ante a little bit with slightly more challenging exercises.

I'm too tired to exercise. As women age, some find they struggle to get a decent night's sleep and mistakenly assume this is just a natural side effect of aging. The following day the resulting fatigue causes some women to feel they are too tired to exercise. However, exercise can actually improve sleep and helps many active people sleep more deeply and without interruption. If you have been struggling to sleep through the night, use exercise to your advantage and you might find you're suddenly sleeping much, much better.

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