Aches and pains. They’re a part of life. I train an older demographic: ladies of “a certain age,” as I like to say. When people are first starting out in the gym, I often hear things like, “Well, I have back pain. But that’s to be expected. It’s just old age.” Is it?

Many of us seem to think that putting up with a growing assortment of aches and pains is part and parcel of getting older. But other cultures throughout the world demonstrate better aging than ours. (I’m thinking of Japanese centenarians who can still pop a squat, for example.) I won’t presume that these folks feel just as sprightly as they ever did but it’s fair to say that they feel good enough to keep (surprisingly) active.

There are a couple of problems with using “getting older” to account for feeling crummy. The first is that it can obscure the real reason why you feel that way. If I’ve got one bad hip, let’s say, then why doesn’t the other one feel just as bad? If it were all about aging then both hips would have gone bust because they’ve got the same number of miles on them. It’s quite possible that there’s a specific mechanical issue that can be addressed with proper exercise (and as a matter of fact, a good trainer will make it her business to look out for those issues).

[pullquote]“Well, I have back pain. But that’s to be expected. It’s just old age.”[/pullquote]

The second problem I see is that this kind of thinking winds up stopping older folks from doing stuff that will keep them healthy and well. If you think “getting older” is the only explanation for your aches and pains then you’re much less inclined to do anything about it. You do less. And the less you do, the less you can do. I’m not suggesting that age isn’t a factor in how people’s bodies feel and function but I do think that using it as a catch-all is getting old. (See what I did there?)

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