Exercise is often prescribed for patients of all ages to reduce pain complaints in muscles and joints. But some feel it gets harder to exercise as they get older. Learning how to exercise more effectively, as you age, will make you feel better.
Will it hurt to exercise if I’ve been inactive for a long period of time?
Check with your doctor of chiropractic before starting any exercise or physical fitness program. While exercise is beneficial, depending on your health status, the type of exercise you perform can have profound effects on your health, both good and bad.
You can always become as physically fit as possible, given your current health status and limitations. When you commit to a physical fitness program, you will move toward enjoying life more fully.
Pick an activity that you enjoy doing and perform it regularly. Make your exercise program enjoyable. If you feel exercising is a chore, you will be uncomfortable with the program and quit. Movement should be fun. Consider asking a friend to exercise with you so that you can support each other in your exercise efforts. Begin your exercise program gradually, starting with five minutes each day. As you become more comfortable with the routine and notice the positive effects of fitness, you may increase the exercise time. (30+ minutes per day is optimal.) If you have been inactive for some time, you may feel some small aches and pains. They will fade with time. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience any unusual pain or symptoms while or after performing your exercises.
I don’t feel as strong as I used to. Can I still exercise?
As we age, we lose muscle mass. Some health care professional suggest that weight training will help prevent strength loss and keep patients feeling younger. Unfortunately, many seniors find they can’t lift the heavy weights necessary to actually build muscle mass.
Recent studies show that while muscle strength diminishes with age, muscle endurance does not. It means that, as we get older, we may benefit from switching strength exercises to endurance exercises, working muscles with light weights but for a longer period of time.
Exercises that emphasize endurance, such as dancing, walking, or bicycling, may be not only more beneficial but also more enjoyable. Walking with a family member or friend helps your physical fitness and helps build relationships. These exercises are also aerobic and will benefit your heart health. For people who cannot walk or ride a bike, there are endurance and flexibility enhancing exercises that can be performed in a chair.
In our next article, Starting Over: Exercise Plans for the Aging, we discuss starting your exercise plan, arthritis & exercise, and how Cole Pain Therapy Group can help.