5 Exercise Myths for People 55 and Older

While it’s expected that most older people tend to slow down with age, the notion that seniors and soon-to-be seniors should trade in exercise and their active lifestyles for bingo and rocking chairs is definitely antiquated, say physical therapists.

And yet, when it comes to exercise for the 55-and-older population, plenty of myths continue to drive people’s actions – or rather, inactions – when it comes to putting in the right amount of sweat equity to stay healthy and active.

From a physiological perspective, sure, most people are going to start to slow down in various ways as they get older, but that doesn’t mean seniors and soon-to-be seniors should lean into these so-called consequences of aging. Age is just a number, they say. And while one must be mindful about the ways in which they adapt activities to certain age-related limitations, regular exercise remains just as critical later in life as at any other point.

To help encourage the 55-and-older crowd to continue making exercise a standard aspect of their everyday lives, here is a list of the top five exercise myths when it comes to fitness at an advanced age:

Myth 1: “It’s Too Late to Start” – It doesn’t matter what you’ve done before now. Even if you’ve never had a regular exercise routine before, it’s never too late to start. “Better late than never” when it comes to exercise isn’t just an adage; it’s a statement backed by multiple studies. Exercising later in life can lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Myth 2: “My Body’s Too Frail” (aka, “I Might Break a Hip”) – Unless you’ve been told this by a medical professional (i.e., physician or physical therapist) based on a specific condition or injury, this is likely fear talking. Not only does regular exercise help strengthen your body’s stability, balance and flexibility, reducing the chances of a fall, but it can also help strengthen your bones. (More on that later.)

Myth 3: “I Have Joint Pain, so I Should Stay Away from Exercise” – Again, the opposite is true. According to medical research, it’s crucial people with arthritis partake in regular exercise. Not only does it improve strength and flexibility, but exercise can also reduce joint stiffness and pain while helping sufferers ward off fatigue.

Myth 4: “I’m Too Old for Weight Training” – Weight training, also known as resistance and strength training, actually takes on a more critical role as you age. Studies show that not only does a stronger body help seniors stay upright and confident, but weight-bearing exercise can also ward off the onset of osteoporosis by helping maintain bone density.

Myth 5: “I’m Better Off Focusing on My Mind, Not My Body” – Fact is, focusing on the body is focusing on the mind. According to multiple studies, including one published last month in Nature Medicine, exercise improves brain health, helps ward off dementia, and may even slow the progression of dementia. In addition, exercise reduces stress and anxiety, and staying active often equates to a better social life.

According to 2018 physical guidelines by the U.S. Department of Health, older adults should shoot for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, plus weekly balance and muscle strengthening exercises.

And while fitness levels and certain limitations shouldn’t keep most older adults from exercise, some exercises may require modifications based on such conditions. Fortunately, a physical therapist can provide personalized guidance based on individual health conditions, movement limitations and physician recommendations.

 

Vallejo

Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 7:30 am – 6:00 pm
Friday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

 

Jeremy Faust, MPT, CSCS, Clinic Director

Jeremy received his Masters of Physical Therapy degree from Loma Linda University in 2003. He obtained his Certified Sports and Conditioning Specialist from the NSCA in 2005. He has focused his work in the out-patient therapy setting for the majority of his career. He has taken many continuing education courses over the years with emphasis on the Mulligan Concept, Kinesio taping, manual therapy, and neurological rehabilitation.

Jeremy believes in treating the patient as a whole and finding the true cause of the problem prior to treatment. He prides himself on treating each patient as an individual and providing them with education on how to prevent future injuries. He enjoys exercising, playing all kinds of sports, and cheering for his favorite sports teams.

Marcus Ramos, PT

Marcus graduated at Carrington College in Pleasant hill, CA. He has 3 years of experience working in orthopedic outpatient practices in Vallejo. Marcus specializes in orthopedic and sports physical therapy, and has taken continuing education credits involving manual therapy, Kinesio Taping and Mulligan techniques. He is also an active competitor in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling; a hobby which allows him to relate to athletes trying to return to their respective sports. Marcus believes that one of the most satisfying aspects of being a physical therapist is seeing patients return to their previous level of function.

Lary Liwanag, PT

Lary earned his physical therapy degree in Angeles University in the Philippines. He has been treating and caring for patients for over 20 years and places emphasis on a thorough evaluation, manual therapy skills and patient education. He enjoys one-on-one interaction with his patients as they progress through their rehabilitation. He loves spending time with his family friends and enjoys cycling, mountain biking, basketball.

Linda Camilleri, OTR, HTC San Jose State University

Linda graduated from San Jose State University in 1987 with a BS in Occupational Therapy. She started her work in hand therapy at North Bay Hospital under the supervision of a Certified Hand Therapist in 1992. She spent 7 years there before moving on to Grove Andersen, Ghiringhellii where she has worked independently for 15 years with a variety of Acute, Overuse and Chronic hand diagnoses. Her case load consists of private pay industrial and partnership patients. She received her Hand Therapy and Physical Agent Modalities Certification from the Board of Occupational Therapy in 2003. She enjoys spending her free time gardening and in the out of doors hiking and skiing especially in the Sierras.

Ann Natali-Mendoza, PT, DPT, CSCS

Ann grew up in the small town of Chester, CA where she played high school tennis, soccer, and was on the ski team. She went on to get her undergraduate degree in Psychology at University of San Francisco. Ann then moved to Orange County where she completed her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Chapman University. Since graduation, Ann has worked as a traveling PT in Arizona, and at various outpatient clinics in the Bay Area. She enjoys working with a variety of populations and levels of function, helping patients reach their maximum potential. Ann has taken many continuing education courses including Performance Movement Techniques by Rocktape, as well as Mulligan and Maitland manual therapy courses. Ann has also completed training to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and plans to begin a yearlong Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapy program (COMT) this spring. During her free time, Ann practices yoga and enjoys hiking and camping with her husband and dog. She continues to play tennis, and ski (when it’s not too cold) and is currently trying to learn how to golf, although she has yet to make it past the driving range.

Benicia

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

 

Jeremy Faust, MPT, CSCS, Clinic Director

Jeremy received his Master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Loma Linda University in 2003. He obtained his certification as a Certified Sports and Conditioning Specialist from the NSCA in 2005. He has focused his work in the outpatient therapy setting for the majority of his career. He has taken many continuing education courses over the years with emphasis on the Mulligan Concept, Kinesiotaping, manual therapy, and neurological rehabilitation.

Jeremy believes in treating the patient as a whole and finding the true cause of the problem prior to treatment. He prides himself on treating each patient as an individual and providing them with education on how to prevent future injuries. He enjoys exercising, playing all kinds of sports, and cheering for his favorite sports teams.

Christina Merkl, PT, DPT

Christina is originally from upstate NY and obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University at Buffalo. After working for 3 years in New York, she moved to Phoenix, AZ where she had the opportunity to work with several high-level athletes and learn several Manual Therapy approaches. She has now made the Bay Area her home and enjoys working with all populations. Christina enjoys being active and spending time with her husband and their 2 boys.

Eydee Mazenko, PTA, CMT

Eydee received her Associates of Science degree in Physical Therapy in 1998. She has spent the past 20 years working in the outpatient orthopedic setting. She has taken many continuing education courses over the years. Her passion is in manual therapy and she is an Advanced John Barnes Myofascial Release therapist. She is dedicated to health and wellness and integrates Pilates and yoga into rehabilitation. In her free time, she enjoys competitive sailing, cycling, and hiking.