How Old Is Too Old To Exercise?
Lately the topic of exercise for seniors has been on my mind. Twice in the past week, friends of my age, have made quite negative comments to me, about seniors exercising. Firstly, a friend asked me how to begin an exercise program. The second comment, was when a friend, who I knew read my blog regularly, very casually mentioned it was about time I slowed down a bit, even going so far as to say that exercising could be causing lasting damage to my body. Reading between the lines, I of course, took her to mean that I’m too old and it’s about time it up.
Just for a moment, the thought popped into my head that maybe she was right. Just for a moment! My thoughts then quickly went to Why should I? Exercise is extremely important to my well being and my sense of who I am. I cannot imagine my life without being active. Exercise is also the way that I cope with some of the challenges that life throws at me from time to time. I refuse to give it up. I am sure that any time in the future that I’m still breathing, I will still be exercising.
Actually exercising in my senior years is easy for me, as I first began an exercise program, when I joined the local gym as a lazy over weight 30 year old. I do have fears of reverting to that person I was back then, so that is probably part of my motivation to keep going. Since then I’ve continued on, choosing different types of exercise, as my life changed, and took the many twists and turns that it’s taken over the past 30 or so years.
Firstly I was a typical gym junkie, hooked on going to the gym and lifting weights. I rarely missed a day. Soon after, I threw cycling and swimming into the mix. In my 50s , when I moved to another town, I gave up the gym and spent hours road cycling outdoors every day.
This was during a period that I was prematurely retired. Soon after getting back into the workforce, I realised very quickly, that I didn’t have those spare hours to spend on the bike every day. So back to the gym I went, and rediscovered my love of weight training, along with fitness and cycling classes. And so it has continued until now. These days I’m very fortunate to have a fully equipped home gym which is a pleasure to work out in.
So yes, maintaining an exercise program as a senior has been easy for me. But I do understand how difficult it could be for a person who has never exercised, to take up an exercise program. I understand how difficult it must be to walk into a gym, for the first time, as an older person. I understand how intimidating the gym environment could be, surrounded by young beautiful bodies and equipment that, at first glance, looks like it would need a pilot’s licence to operate.
But I’m here to say that you do not have to go to a gym to be fit. All you need is commitment, patience and a positive attitude. You just need to get started. It doesn’t matter how tiny the baby steps. Just take them, and before you know it you will be making improvements, feeling more confident and maybe even enjoying your sessions.
In my younger days, I was a gym instructor and a personal trainer in a gym. This was long ago when personal trainers only worked in gyms. This was the very early days when qualification was made mandatory. I was in the first intake of fitness leaders who trained to be qualified gym instructors and personal trainers. Before this, no qualification was needed. Unfortunately I abandoned this career choice in my mid forties, when I decided I was too old and there would no longer be any work for me in the industy.
How I wish I’d had more foresight, and kept my qualifications updated, instead of giving up. If I’d done so, I know there would be plenty of work out there today as a trainer specialising in exercise for seniors. And I don’t mean gentle exercise for seniors. I mean training seniors to be as fit as they could be, to be the best they could be, and to be what they want to be.
The baby boomers are generally much more healthy and active in their 60s than their parents were and they don’t necessarily want gentle passive exercise. In many cases they want to continue on with an exercise program as they have done all their lives, but they don’t necessarily want a trainer who is as young as their children or grandchildren.
It doesn’t matter the type of exercise you would like to do, if you are in your senior years and haven’t exercised for a while or have never exercised, make an appointment with yourself to start moving. As a start, park a little further away from your destination and walk. This would be a great start and a base that could be built on as fitness levels increase.
This photo, of our Melbourne Coastrek 2017 team, in my opinion, shows that it’s still possible for us seniors to participate in a meaningful way in an exercise program and in fitness events. The girls in this photo are not ageing seniors. Well three of them aren’t. I definitely do qualify, but I feel very proud that I was able to be a part of this team, and even though injured at the time, was able to work with those injuries and be a part of this awesome team. We all increased our fitness over the three months we trained together for the event. An added advantage was that while training, and participating on the day we made unforgettable memories together.
If you are reading this, as a senior, please believe me. You can do it!
Do please stay tuned. In the next post I will give specific tips for seniors to start an exercise program.
Are you a senior and considering starting an exercise program? Or are you a senior who is a regular exerciser? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.