This week we continue to address myths around getting fit after 50.


  1. I’m injured-I should wait to start working out

Keeping the body moving, even when injured helps to speed healing by improving circulation and preventing muscles and joints from becoming tight. If have an injury or are recovering from surgery, talk to you doctor or work with a physical therapist to get back on your feet.  Basic exercise and movement can help you heal.

  1. High-intensity interval training is dangerous

This form of exercise, HIIT for short, is a great way to get into shape without having to spend too much time.  It does require time to build up to and skill to perform some of the exercises.  A fitness professional can help you learn a great HIIT program.

  1. Squats will wreck my knees

The key is doing a squat with the right technique. Properly performed squats can help boost leg strength which helps with balance and activities of daily living (ADLs) such us picking up laundry, groceries, getting up and down from a chair and climbing stairs.

  1. I can’t exercise; I have “bone on bone” arthritis.

This phrase is very misleading.  X-rays with people who have no pain in their joints have demonstrated that they have bone on bone, so even though the x-ray is showing arthritis, it is not causing a problem for them. Studies have also shown exercise doesn’t accelerate arthritis, and even helps to decrease some pain due to building the muscles around the joint.  Being overweight puts increased stress on joints and therefore can increase pain and stiffness.  Exercise is part of any successful weight loss program.

  1. Strength training will make me bulky and immobile.

Women tend to worry about this, and shouldn’t.  Women lose muscle, bone and strength faster than men, that is why lifting weight is key to a women’s fitness program. Strength training is important for health and weight loss.  Lifting weights for general strength is not body building.  Body building requires lifting very large amounts of weight and is focused on developing big muscles.

  1. As I get older, I should avoid pain when exercising.

When muscles are overloaded they get stronger and that helps overall health.  Being new to exercise also works muscles and joints and they may become tired and sore.  With overloading can come some pain or discomfort in muscles and joints.  If it passes within 48 hours and doesn’t interfere with sleeping or performing your daily activities you will be fine.  Pain in chest, or pain that gets worse and isn’t related to the exercises you were doing is something you might want to discuss with your health care provider.

  1. Because of my chronic health problems, I should skip exercise.

Actually, staying active is a great way to improve chronic health issues.  Research has shown that exercise helps chronic issues such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.  Exercise can reduce the need for medications.  Consulting with your health care provider if you have these issues is important.  A referral to a physical therapist will also help you to get started on a gradual and safe exercise program.


If you haven’t been getting regular physical activity in a while check with your health care provider to make sure it is safe to start. Physical Therapists are trained to help people move better, safely improve fitness including strength, balance and overall health.  If you would like to work with a Physical Therapist on these issues, see your medical provider and ask for a referral to a physical therapist. PTs can help you get moving and keep you healthy.


For additional questions, please contact the Physical Therapy Department, North Country Hospital Rehabilitation, 334-3260.


Reference:  Feiereisen, S. Readers Digest. Retrieved from:


Katesel Strimbeck PT, MS is the Director of Rehabilitation Services at North Country Hospital.  Katesel has been a practicing PT for 20 years. She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).