If you have a medical condition or any unexplained symptoms or you haven't had a physical in a long time, check with your doctor before you start exercising. Otherwise, go ahead. "People don't need to check with a doctor before they exercise just because they're older," says Dutta. Just go slowly and don't overdo it.
Exercise Myth: I'm sick, so I shouldn't exercise.
On the contrary, if you have a chronic health problem -- such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease -- exercise is almost certainly a good idea. Check with a doctor first, but exercise will probably help.
"Exercise is almost like a silver bullet for lots of health problems," says Arbaje. "For many people, exercise can do as much if not more good than the 5 to 10 medications they take every day."
Exercise Myth: I'm afraid I might have a heart attack.
We've all heard about people who had heart attacks while exercising. It can happen. However, the many health benefits of exercise far exceed the small risk. "Being a couch potato is actually more dangerous than being physically active," says Dutta. "That's true for the risk of heart disease and many other conditions."
Exercise Myth: I never really exercised before -- it's too late to make a difference in my health.
It may seem too late to atone for a lifetime of not exercising. "That's absolutely not true," says Dutta. Studies have found that even in people in their nineties living in nursing homes, starting an exercise routine can boost muscle strength. Other research shows that starting exercise late in life can still cut the risk of health problems -- such as diabetes --and improve symptoms. "It really is never too late to start exercising and reaping the benefits," Dutta tells WebMD.
Exercise Myth: Exercise will hurt my joints.
If you're in chronic pain from arthritis, exercising may seem too painful. Here's a counterintuitive fact: studies show that exercising helps with arthritis pain. One study of people over age 60 with knee arthritis found that those who exercised more had less pain and better joint function.