14 Exercises We Can’t Do. Really? Says Who?

Reader's Digest says people over 50 should all but avoid exercise. We're not having it.

Want to rile me up? Tell me I can’t do something because of my age. That’s known as poking the bear. Bad idea. The exercise experts at Reader’s Digest have decided that people over 50 should be as sedentary as possible, with maybe a bit of mall walking thrown in. These are fighting words to me. Seriously, f&ck those people. What are they thinking? The goal is to get people doing these things, not to scare them off! This idiocy infuriates me. It is degrading, insulting, and continues a culture that says we are somehow disabled and incapacitated.

The most dangerous exercise for people over 50 is the one they don’t do! Come on, what year is it? 1950? Should we take up smoking and eating donuts while slowing dying in our La-Z-Boy recliners?
Strong. It’s normal for humans to be powerful. Photo Hanover PA CrossFit.
This is their list of what not to do. Really. They think we should never do these.
  1. Running stairs
  2. Bikram or hot yoga
  3. High-intensity interval training
  4. Spin class
  5. Push ups
  6. Squats with weights
  7. Bench press
  8. Burpees
  9. Pull ups
  10. Crunches
  11. Deadlift
  12. Jumping lunges
  13. Sprints
  14. Leg presses
Age requires more recovery time. So what. Just take an extra day to recover, but for god’s sake, don’t not exercise. That is insane. Anyone can do these exercises. It may take some preparation, some instruction, some help, basically some initiative on the part of the person to actually do them. But we have agency. No matter what physical condition one is in, one can start. Progress can be made. This is not a hopeless situation.
These bikes are about to get a punishing workout courtesy of these ladies. Photo Hanover PA CrossFit.
Maybe someone is very out of shape, their diet is terrible, and they have no flexibility. This is not a hopeless situation no matter the age. We can walk, then we can walk further, then we can lift weights. We can improve our food situation. We have agency. We can do this stuff. It infuriates me to be told otherwise. It will quite literally kill people.
At 50, I spent the better part of a year hooked to an IV in a hospital with a rare autoimmune disorder just trying to make it through a day. My fitness was zero. It was all about staying alive back then. So I know about how to come back from a very low place. I have been told all sorts of things in my life that I should not try because I will fail. I only fail when I give up, and I am not giving up today.
I am 60 years old. This is what I do:
Pull ups: strict hang, 20 reps straight through, or 3 sets of 12. Ohhhh, so dangerous.
Spin class: I kill it, love Soul Cycle.
Squats: 225lbs, 3 sets of 10, or max at 255lbs. Yes, MF&%s, that’s heavy!
Deadlifts: oh yeah, singles at 305lbs. Boom!
Bench press: 195lbs, 3 sets of 5, followed by 3 sets of 15 push ups with a 45lb weight on my back.
HIIT training: Love it, much better for me than slow long distance.
It’s hard work, but does that mean one shouldn’t do it? Photo Hanover PA CrossFit.
On and on. I am not a particularly gifted athlete. I just make a habit of taking care of myself. Yes, this stuff is hard. Yes, my hips hurt some mornings. Yes, I need to be careful. But that does not mean don’t do the work.
This gets to the heart of the issue. This stuff is work. Aging well requires work and focus; it is not a free ride. We need to participate, we need to push ourselves in all ways: mentally, socially and physically. Of course there is another option. Believe, as the Reader’s Digest people do, that we need to be coddled, that we are best infantilized and left to a slowing decay towards death, all for fear of pushing ourselves. The choice is ours. You know where I stand.
Big shout out to The Morning Chalk Up for letting us know about this.
See medical disclaimer below. ↓


  1. Thank you so much for this article. I turned 60 this year. Last year I was traumatized by my treatment when I tried to sign up for personal training at a chain fitness company to get back in shape after Covid. The manager was rude, sarcastic, and demeaning. I was asked if I was capable of “walking” on a treadmill among many other negative comments about my weight. I was told I had not really lost 20 pounds, it was water weight. I have not been back to that gym since even though I had to finish my contract.

    2 years ago I was climbing 69 flights of stairs for fund raisers and cycled across the state of Iowa. I know what I CAN be in shape again and your words inspired me!


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The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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