aging · fitness

Livestrong won’t live long with this bogus exercise advice

CW: mention of diets and quoting of bogus articles’ judgy and false statements about body sizes and ages and (oddly enough) heights.

I don’t necessarily hate internet exercise advice; often I can pick and choose the good stuff from the bin of otherwise useless or ill-fitting or totally-not-for-me tips, and go about my merry way.

Not today, though.

Nope, not today.
Nope, not today.

Why not today? I came across (courtesy of Sam), a pair of totally bogus 2019 exercise articles:

An exercise guide to get a 40-year-old woman fit (I kid you not on the title); AND…

How do short women stay in shape? (their tone of incredulity was, at the very least, surprising)

First of all, what’s with the titles? The first one seems to be enlisting unnamed third parties for rounding up the 40-year-old women and subjecting them to fitness-inducing procedures. Thank goodness I’m no longer 40 is all I have to say about that.

Of course that’s not true; I have a lot more to say about that.

I'm just getting started...
I’m just getting started…

And the second article– is it curious that such a thing (namely, short women “staying in shape” — ew!) is possible? Or is there a darker tone of skepticism here?

Moving on… I have to tell you, these writers really know how to hit you with the lede. Here’s the over-40 article opener:

If you’re a 40-year-old woman who wants to get in shape, it’s crucial to do workouts that are targeted to your changing body and slowed metabolism levels. As you age, it’s normal to experience muscle loss, stubborn belly fat and reduced energy levels (hurrah, getting older!).

It’s a miracle I had the energy to keep reading.

The short-women article opens with encouragement:

Every woman should strive to stay in shape, no matter her height.

Well, that’s a new twist on fitspo. Then, there’s some carefully couched phrasing about exercise and eating (did they call in the lawyers on this?):

In general, shorter women will need to aim for a lower weight than taller women, which may mean that you need to exercise more or eat less than they do.

This woman isn't sure what's coming, but she's not happy.
This woman isn’t sure what’s coming, but she’s not happy.

Both articles start from the premise that “getting fit” (which also means for them getting thin) is going to be, at best, a grim uphill battle, involving lots of hard workouts and very restricted eating. Both articles make false statements about how exercise will help reduce belly fat (BO-GUS!) and how exercise will result in lowered body weights (DOUBLE BO-GUS!).

The worst part of the getting-women-over-40-fit article is this: it assumes that 40-something women aren’t or can’t or wouldn’t otherwise be athletes, or physically active, or functionally able to do all sorts of vigorous sports and activities. So it offers a grim regime of exercises, all aimed at staving off the dreaded belly fat. This makes me sad.

Luckily, none of what that article says is true or necessary. We of the over-40 women’s roundup group have loads of fun activities open to us. Just look at our blog for ideas. Or these recent pictures of me (in my mid-50s) attempting all sorts of moving-around-things:

Can all sorts of activities be done over 40? Yes.

Will there be belly fat? Yes, probably.

Does that inhibit movement and render one incapable of activity? No.

You know what? I’m going to go out on a high note here and not talk about the short-women screed. Okay, I can’t resist sharing this one totally bogus tidbit:

Short women will do well in Ashtanga yoga, which requires you to move from pose to pose in the space of one breath to the next. Your compact shape will enable you to move in and out of poses more quickly than taller women.

I’ve taken a lot of yoga classes, and must say I don’t recall shorter colleagues moving in a blur around me. If you are either a) shorter and move with ninja speed; or b) have witnessed examples of a), please do share your story with us.

4 thoughts on “Livestrong won’t live long with this bogus exercise advice

  1. Ok as a 5’1″ woman nearing 60 I”m rolling my eyes so hard at this advice while feeling depressed at my lack of ninja-like speed at yoga. Where do they come up with this nonsense!?!?!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What did I just read? This is such stupid nonsense! As an athletic short woman in my 40s I am doubly offended. I am in better shape by 43 than I was at 23. By the way, I am terrible at yoga, but I am good at, and really enjoy olympic weightlifting, skiing, rock climbing and CrossFit.

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  3. Thank goodness this article clarified for me that my height is not a consideration in whether or not I should try to stay fit! As a short woman (~5’2″), I stay in shape with a variety of aerobic and strength-building activities, as I imagine most taller women and people of other genders do. Yoga isn’t currently my thing, but now that I know that I will be extra fast while doing it, I might have to add it into my routine!! 😉

    But seriously…who writes this garbage? Both articles seem to be a combination of fear-mongering about fat, weird exercise suggestions to combat said fat, and common-sense suggestions (both resistance/strength training and cardio exercises have health benefits, surprise!) that should apply to all ages, sizes, and genders of people.

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