There are as many myths out there surrounding exercise as there are types of exercise.
For generations we have heard that in order to get into shape, you need to suffer. No pain, no gain. For years we have been bombarded with images of celebrities, models and professional athletes who are in phenomenal shape. We are told by the media that if we aren’t ripped, lean and have 6 pack abs then we are not in shape.
These myths are not true.
As we age, our bodies change. Researchers used to look at adulthood as one long continuum. We are learning that our bodies change as we age.
The main difference in our bodies as we age is that we don’t recover from injuries as well as we did when we were younger.
When I was in my 20s I could go out all night, drink alcohol, and wake up feeling fresh and ready for the stresses of a new day.
Now that I am in my 40s, if I stay up all night and drink alcohol, the next day will be wasted. I won’t be able to wake up as easily. And when I do wake up, I won’t be as fresh or feel as good as if I got a good night’s sleep. I am not recovering from the toxin that is alcohol, and not recovering from a lack of sleep, as well as I was able to 20 years ago.
When we exercise, our strength and muscles grow because we are tearing muscle fibers. That is why we get sore from exercising. We get stronger and bigger when our muscles repair themselves after exercising. The older we get, the longer it takes for our bodies to repair those torn muscle fibers. The harder we go, the more muscle fibers are torn, the more pain we feel after exercising, and the longer it will take to heal those muscle fibers.
When we are in our 20’s, we can exercise as hard as we want to without feeling any pain from it. We can get injured and feel very little pain from it when we are younger. As we age though, we won’t recover from injuries as fast as we did when we were younger.
If you are in your 40’s or older, you can’t go into a gym after having not exercised in years and get a good workout in. Maybe you could do that in your 20’s, but not by age 40 and older. You will not recover from the micro injuries that come from exercising.
If you haven’t exercised in years then you need to get yourself in shape to even start exercising. During the first few weeks of a new exercise routine, you will not get a great workout in. During the first few weeks you should be getting used to the new motions and new weights.
You will be surprised at how sore you get just from lifting light weights, if you are not used to the motion. That is why you need to start out easy, almost too easy to begin with. In order to get the most benefits out of exercising you need to do it consistently. If you start out lifting heavy weights, then you can injure yourself very easily and end up having to stop exercising. Once again, the older you are, the easier you have to start out with a new routine. Because the older you are, the more easily injured you will be from starting up a new routine.
Even when you are exercising consistently and getting into good shape, if you are over 40 or 50, then you still need to go easy. I am a big believer of “low intensity and low impact” exercising.
Even once we are in shape, if we are over 40 then we need to be cautious with exercising. We will get injured more easily, and it will take more time to heal, then when we were in our 20’s. If we lift too hard, it will only make us injury prone.
Heavy weight lifting is very hard on the joints. It will cause the joints to breakdown quicker than they would otherwise, and bring on osteo-arthritis much sooner than it would occur otherwise.
I personally don’t see a reason to beat yourself through exercise to get into shape. Not when you can exercise in a way that is easy on your body, will help you to age gracefully, and allow you to keep doing the activities that you want to do well into your senior years.
An exercise that is high impact with heavy weights will put undo stress on your joints. You will get stronger, but is all that strength necessary? In the real world will you ever have a chance to max out a bench press?
That is why I believe in low impact, low intensity exercising. Exercise in a way that is easy on your body. Exercise in a way that is sustainable for your body. Exercise in a way that you will be able to maintain for the next 10 to 20 years.
If you participate in an extreme, high impact, high intensity exercise system, you will only be able to stick with it until you injure yourself. Statistically speaking, if you participate in an extreme exercise system, you will have a 73.5% chance of injuring yourself. This is the same rate of injury in triathlon training, marathon training, power lifting and Olympic weight lifting.
You only get the benefits of exercising while exercising consistently. If you exercise for a month of 2, then get injured and take another month to 2 months off, then exercise again for another month, then take another month off, so on and so on, you will not get any benefits from exercising.
We all will have a better chance at sticking with consistent exercise routine if we are moderate with our exercising. We want to go hard enough to illicit a response, but not so hard that you can’t exercise the next day. As we age, it gets easier and easier to overdo it and injure ourselves.
Don’t fall for the gimmicky lies diet and exercise systems tell you. Most of us will never get a ripped, lean physique with 6 pack abs. Most of us will never be professional athletes. So why train like we one? Hard core exercising can be good for you, if you are already in shape and want to get into better shape. Even then they can injure very easily.
So why not exercise to train yourself for the stresses you will encounter in the real world? Stresses such as golfing, gardening, sitting at a desk for 8 hours, driving for long hours, lifting luggage into an overhead compartment, chasing after your grandchildren, or anything else that you may want to do in real life.
Exercise for real life. Exercise for functional strength. You don’t have to exercise hard, you just have to exercise consistently, to get benefits from it.
Exercising to reduce pain, increase mobility and real world functioning, through easy on the body exercises, is the Pain Free Way.
Here are 2 other articles that I wrote on the topic of high and low impact exercising: