No Place for Ageism in Fitness

Australia has an international reputation as a sporting nation; full of fit, healthy people. But is this really the case, particularly for those over 50? Only around one in 10 Australians over the age of 50 exercises enough to gain any cardiovascular benefit. These numbers hit hard when you learn that about half of the physical decline associated with old age may be due to a lack of physical activity*.

Woman working out

It’s never too late to get—and stay—fit. However, many older people believe that certain exercises are no longer appropriate for their bodies — an issue not helped by ‘click-bait’ media discussing the exercises you should never do after 50, for example. The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) argues there’s no place for ageism in exercise, and its members are in furious agreement – there’s no reason why over-50s can’t lift weights and get into some serious sweat-inducing exercise, it’s just a matter of careful load intensity and monitoring.

“Not everybody who walks in off the street is ready for squats with a heavy barbell on their shoulders. We don’t need to start with those exercises day one, but they should never be taken off the menu based on somebody’s age,” APA physiotherapist Meg Lowry explained.

Of course some people are fitter than others, and it’s probably not wise to jump right into a challenging fitness regime if it’s not your usual practice, but according to Lowry, these sorts of exercises are proven to be of great benefit to over-50s.

“It is important that we recognise we all have the potential to make inaccurate assumptions about what is and is not appropriate for a person’s age,” Lowry said. “But there is a strong body of evidence to suggest that heavy strength training, challenging balance exercises and high intensity interval training (HIIT) are in fact advantageous for many older adults.

“In some cases, 80 year olds can be capable of more than the average 40-year-old, including heavy gym-based exercise. It’s our role as physiotherapists to treat every person as an individual, based on their needs rather than age.”

No matter what your age, properly managed and monitored exercise can benefit your mood, metabolism, brain health, bone density and keep your weight in check. So don’t let you age hamper your activity; get out and get active!

A physio can help you to design a program to fit your needs. Find one near you: https://choose.physio/findaphysio  

*https://www.physicalactivityaustralia.org.au/healthy-ageing-staying-physically-active/

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