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Alexander: Top 3 reasons people 55 and older avoid exercise


One of the most common questions I get asked from my aging patients is “Are there any exercises I should avoid?” But, for those 55 and older, it usually also comes with the added... “so that I don’t get injured.”

I have worked with thousands of people over the age of 55 who have continued to enjoy the same activities in their 50s as they did in their 40s.

I’m talking about running marathons, hiking, playing softball, etc.

Why do others see age as a reason to stop doing the activities they love? Why do some feel that is an excuse to slow down?

Here are the three most common reasons that I have heard:

1. Fear that exercise will be causing pain or worsen the pain

If you are older than 55, then it is almost certain you have dealt with some sort of pain or ache. Think about it though, I bet it did not always stop you. And I bet it continues to not stop you.

Think about when you were raising kids. You set your kid down into their crib and you go to stand back up and you feel that deep ache in the low back. This made it difficult to return to standing. Three hours later, after your child is done napping, you go to their room. You now realize you are going to have to bend over and pick up your kid out of the crib.

Do you do it? Of course, you do. We deal with aches and pains throughout our life, but we don’t let them stop us from doing the things we need to do.

As we get older, the fear of pain increases in your 50s and 60s because now pain means doomsday in our heads.

The concern as we get older is that every little ache and pain could be something worse than just a “tweak” in the back now that you are older.

We can start to see why people aged 55 and older are afraid to exercise ... because it could make the pain worse.

Here’s the kicker, pain does not always mean there is damage. You shouldn’t ignore it, but you should also not fear it.

2. A friend, a family member (or even worse) a medical professional told you that you should not be doing that type of exercise.

Everyone has an opinion ... on everything.

I still hear it from patients “my doctor told me to never squat again.” I am sure they mean well. But is it actually true?

Imagine a life of not being able to squat. How will you sit on the toilet? How will you go up and down stairs?

The hard part is that these old beliefs from health care professionals, your parents and your friends create such a mixed message. The mixed message will confuse you. And confusion will lead to inaction.

3. Lack of accountability

I understand, it is tough to drag yourself somewhere three to five days per week. You do it for work, but that is because your boss is holding you accountable to do your job.

Plus, if you don’t, you won’t get paid.

Some people are very internally motivated and have no issues with getting to the gym on their own.

Most people struggle and need to have someone hold them accountable for their health. We have been trained to be held accountable. We are constantly being held accountable. In our younger years, we were held accountable by our teachers. At work, we have bosses to hold us accountable for the work we are doing.

Hire someone to hold you accountable. It is the most responsible thing you can do for your health. Your future self will thank you.

Editor’s note: Spark Performance & Physiotherapy is at 6056 E. Baseline Road Suite No. 147 in Mesa. Go to sparkperformancept.com.