Don’t jump into exercise!
Congratulations! Like many, you’ve vowed to start exercising this year. You may have lofty goals, but for Baby Boomers and older adults, it’s imperative to think about starting SAFELY. This is especially critical if you:
• have been sedentary for many years
• are a current or recent smoker
• have a chronic disease (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis)
• are overweight/obese
Benefits outweigh the risks
Remember: although the risks of exercise are small, they do exist for some people, especially those of advancing age. So start off your exercise program gradually. Find a physical activity you enjoy and can visualize continuing for many years. Walking, swimming, biking on a flat surface and yoga are low-impact and help build muscle and stamina without putting excess stress on your body.
And don’t forget other activities that are considered moderate exercise: dancing, gardening and light housework are a few examples.
Start your exercise program with safety in mind
• Get the approval of your healthcare provider. Heart conditions, joint problems, bone weakness, blood sugar troubles and recent surgeries are just a few of the issues that need consideration when starting a fitness program. Make sure your physician evaluates your exercise needs.
• Review all your meds. Medications for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes can change your body’s response to exercise. Check with your doctor or fitness professional for program modifications and precautions.
• Check the weather report. Because our bodies don’t adjust as well to extreme temperatures as they did when we were younger, make sure not to exercise outside in hot or humid weather. On cold days, dress in layers and be sure to cover your fingers, ears and nose. And if the air quality is poor and you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, avoid physical activity. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise (hint: urine the color of light yellow, or lemonade, usually indicates adequate hydration).
• Evaluate your work-out area for falls. Don’t sabotage your safety and success with a dangerous environment. If exercising outside, find an area where the pavement is level and free of cracks. Be aware of curbs, holes in lawns and the location of driveways; make sure you can cross the street before the light changes. If you plan to exercise indoors, find a room big enough for activity, and remove small carpets and electrical cords from the area.
To avoid injuries, the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends for folks over 50:
o Warm up with activity such as brisk walking before you work out to warm up your muscles and get the circulatory system moving; stretch afterwards.
o Exercise consistently—Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week, not just on the week-ends.
o Use proper equipment–New shoes for walking, helmets for riding bike, and clothing with fibers that allow sweat to evaporate.
o Use the 10% rule–Gradually increase your activity level. To prevent overuse injuries, increase in increments of no more than 10 percent per week.
For more information about exercising in middle age and older, call for a complimentary strategy session.