By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

For years, I have fielded questions, addressed concerns, and engaged in debate over the benefits of exercise for an older population. While most questions were great, many were based on myths and even fear. Because of this, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the most common myths of exercise relative to an older population.

Myth: Exercise will make your arthritis worse.
This is not true. Aquatic exercise is one of the best forms of exercise for persons with arthritis, offering a resistance that promotes muscular strength and cardiovascular conditioning. It is gentle, safe, and can be modified to suit the participant. We offer two levels of aquatic exercise every week in the Wellness Center — you do not have to be able to swim and your head stays above water at all times. However, to have a pleasant experience in class, you should feel comfortable in water.

You might also try a recumbent bike or the Nu-Step. These types of equipment are gentle on the joints because they are not full weight-bearing. They are always available in the Wellness Center’s fitness room. We offer equipment orientations Monday through Friday. Call Ext. 377 to schedule yours.

Myth: If you have heart problems, it isn’t safe to exercise.
This is another myth. Most cardiac rehab participants are encouraged to perform cardiovascular exercise seven days a week. With doctor approval, you may engage in many forms of cardiovascular
exercise right in the Wellness Center (i.e. bike, Nu-Step, treadmill, rower, group fitness classes, etc.) — you would just need the appropriate type, intensity, and time.

Myth: If you exercise regularly, you may over-exert yourself and feel tired all day.
Actually, it is just the opposite. Many regular exercisers find they have more energy. This is not surprising. Because of the tremendous conditioning effect of consistent exercise, you are able to do more throughout the day.

Myth: In order to stay injury-free, avoid exercise if you cannot perform them correctly.
There is no easy out here! You can learn to perform the exercises correctly. You are more at risk for injury by not conditioning your body to move by bending, stretching, lifting, pulling, and walking regularly.

Source: Riebe, D., Ehrman, J., Liguori, G., & Magal, M., (Eds.). (2018). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (Tenth Edition). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health.