In the United States and other industrialized nations, people are living longer than ever. This is obviously a good thing. The problem is that living longer doesn’t always mean living better. Western diets today and sedentary lifestyles are an absolute nightmare combination for metabolic health. As a society, we’re beginning to have conversations about aging well and living well, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be.
Healthy aging doesn’t get the attention it deserves—especially from men. Men generally want to be strong, physically and emotionally. Men, we are told, don’t complain. Men don’t burden others with their problems. Men are low-maintenance. Men negotiate pain Internally. Men walk it off. Men tough it out.
There’s nothing wrong with any of the above—each of these traits has virtues in its own right. However, problems begin where these ideals, or aspirations to them, become self-destructive. Other men might recognize what I’m talking about: the times when the desire for independence becomes a refusal to listen; where strong will becomes irrational stubbornness; where emotional strength mutates into emotional denial.
These become major obstacles when negotiating essential health fundamentals.
Diet, sleep and exercise are key factors in your health at any age. This shouldn’t come as news to anyone—after all, people have known this for as long as there have been people. Yet even if we know it in theory, plenty of us neglect the fundamentals to our own detriment.
Today, we’re focusing on one of the most fundamental—and most undervalued—determinants of your health: fitness.
If you’re 65 or older, is running bad for you?
No—unless you’re doing it wrong.
The old myth that running causes osteoarthritis of the knees is just that: a myth. In fact, runners—short-distance and marathon runners alike—are less likely to develop knee problems than the general population. According to the latest National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines on the health effects of running, for most people, running is an excellent form of exercise that can improve general fitness, endurance and even knee health. So why are so many people convinced running will blow out their knees?
The cause is likely twofold. First: because of the force and strain running places on knees, researchers once suspected such repetitive, high-impact activity would harm knee joints. Even with growing evidence suggesting running helps knees, we’re still learning the mechanics of why and how. And second: while running properly is beneficial, running with bad form can be actively harmful. Amateurs with poor form can easily overexert and injure themselves. That’s why it’s important to go at your own pace and build up gradually. Learn about proper running form, know your limits, and talk to your doctor.
It hurts when I exercise. Does aerobic exercise do more harm than good?
Probably not, but ask your doctor.
Pain may be all in the mind, but reacting to it isn’t a sign of mental weakness. Pain is your body’s primary alert system. While you should never give in to pain, you should always listen to it. If pain is severe or persistent, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your doctor.
I had a previous injury. Do I still need regular exercise?
Everybody needs exercise. After the initial stages of the healing process, rehabilitation will require using the injured body part rather than nursing it. Depending on the location, extent and severity of your injury, you may wish to consider working with a licensed physical therapist and/or a qualified trainer to develop your ideal exercise regimen. Rehabilitation therapies for common industries or loss of strength incorporate specialized exercises that help improve muscle tone and function.
Navigating rehabilitation on your own is a bad idea for several reasons, but perhaps most important is this. Without an expert to assist and monitor you, you risk not only missing out on the benefits of rehabilitation and physical therapy: you could easily reaggravate or worsen the injury itself.
While there’s much, much more we could go into, we at SaveSeniorCare want to stress our main healthy aging takeaway. The message to men 65 and up: taking care of yourself isn’t self-indulgence, asking your doctor for help isn’t a sign of weakness, and it’s never too late begin exercising.
For more healthy aging recommendations, we recommend visiting the National Institute on Aging’s guidelines for exercise and physical activity. You can find additional fitness tips for men aged 65 and up in this article from Exercise Right.
If you or a loved one are considering physical therapy or rehabilitation services, we invite you to consider SaveSeniorCare’s comprehensive occupational therapy, physical therapy and rehabilitation services. Please visit SaveSeniorCare Rehabilitation to learn more.