Can You Be Too Old To Exercise?

Many people believe that their age is a barrier to exercise. I’ve heard it a lot in my career and I can confirm it’s a false and at times limiting belief.

As humans mature they get physically and mentally weaker especially as they reach 60 +. This is just a fact of life. However, for most people there is an improved quality of life to be enjoyed at any age and exercise is the key.

Alicia I. Arbaje, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore agrees. She said:

“It’s not true. Some people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s are out there running marathons and becoming body-builders. A lot of the symptoms that we associate with old age — such as weakness and loss of balance — are actually symptoms of inactivity, not age!”

Seeing is believing. this is Yogi, Tao Porchon Lynch 96 years young:

Or what about our very own Dave McInnes. He started training with us in 2011, lost a few stones of fat and went on to compete in kettlebell sport.

Another one of our students, Sarah Heward, 55, competes regularly in iron woman competitions and 10K’s. She recently entered a 10K and finished 1st Veteran Female. We’ll make sure that she’s able to compete for many years to come.

Inspiring aren’t they? We all have the potential in us to be just as inspirational. The key is make exercise a priority in our daily life. Over time you will reap the physical, mental and even age defying benefits.

Studies show that regular exercise can slow down many of the detrimental effects of ageing. It helps keep your body strong, improves your balance and agility. It also strengthens your bones and can reduce the likelihood of suffering with osteoporosis as we age.

And these are only the physical benefits. What about mentally?

The mental benefits are nearly limitless. The endorphins (happy hormone) produced in the brain through exercising act as a stress reliever and reduces the effects of and sometimes even eliminate depression.

Exercise has been linked to improving sleep quality, reducing the effects of insomnia.

Then there’s your overall cognitive function. Regular physical activity helps fine-tuned motor skills benefit cognitive function. Numerous studies suggest a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for physically active individuals even if they are starting to get in to exercise at an advanced age.

Some forms of exercise may even be more effective than others such as dancing.

Elderly Dancing

A study, from the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, by Kathrin Rehfeld showed that dancing and endurance training both improve the areas of the brain that decline with age.

A segment of elderly volunteers, with an average age of 68 were split in to two test groups and were asked to take part in an eighteen-month weekly course of learning dance routines, or endurance and flexibility training.

The results show that both groups displayed an increase in the hippo campus region of the brain. The area that plays a key role in memory and learning, and balance.

The traditional fitness training program conducted mainly repetitive exercises, like cycling or walking, However, the dance group were challenged with something new each week. Dr Rehfeld explains:

“We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance). Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor.”

The extra challenges introduced by the variety of dancing styles and tempos were thought to account for the superior balance displayed by those participants in dancing group.

This study’s finds that working your brain while you move your body can maximise the benefits of exercise.

I understand that dancing isn’t for everyone but endurance training doesn’t need to be boring and repetitive. Bodyweight exercises, resistance training, circuits and kettlebells can have the same benefits if implemented correctly.

So there you have it. You are never too old to exercise. Whether it be walking, running, yoga, weight lifting, dancing or kickboxing. One of my students Professor Lorne Crerar, 64, loves his regular kickboxing workout.

I recommend you find what what works for you and get moving.

Of course if you need help on your way, I and DMC Fitness are always here to get you started, keep you motivated and encourage you every step of the way.

We even offer a FREE 1-2-1 Success Session to get you started on your health and fitness journey.

Until next time, “Strength for Life”,

Davie

Davie McConnachie

Davie McConnachie, creator of DMC Fitness and Dynamic Mind Conditioning, is an expert health and wellness coach, multi-award winning motivational speaker, award-winning gym owner, writer and published poet.

Athletically, Davie has competed nationally in MMA, Boxing and Thai Boxing, and internationally in kettlebell sport. Davie enjoyed the London Marathon, several half marathons and is a regular mountain trekker. 

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