Exercise is one of the most important ways to stay healthy, as it provides the body with strength and energy. For an optimal workout, here are five serious exercise mistakes seniors must stop making.
- Avoid: Starting a new exercise routine without the guidance of a medical doctor.
Do this instead: Consult your doctor before beginning a new workout.
Why: As we age, our bodies undergo physical changes such as decreased maximum heart rate, decreased lung capacity, loss of muscle mass and strength, decline of blood flow to the brain, and deteriorating balance. These unfortunate factors put seniors at increased risk of injury during exercise. It’s important to know your health status, seek treatment if needed, and determine your physical abilities and limitations before you begin any new workout regimen.
- Avoid: Stretching or exercising without warming up.
Do this instead: Incorporate a gentle 10-minute warmup at the start of your workout to prepare the body by gradually increasing heart rate and circulation. This should consist of light cardiovascular movements. Never stretch muscles without first warming up, as “cold” muscles are more prone to tears and strains.
Why: A warm-up helps to prevent injuries during exercise, as it loosens joints and increases blood flow to the muscles. A rise in muscle temperature allows the hemoglobin in blood to release oxygen more readily for better performance and helps muscles to work more efficiently.
- Avoid: An exercise routine with one-sided repetitive exercises.
Do this instead: Reduce your risk of developing repetitive use injury by avoiding working the same muscles and joints on consecutive days.
Why: Repetitive exercises can lead to overuse injuries. This can cause conditions such as tendonitis, a condition in which the tissue connecting muscles to bone becomes inflamed, and bursitis, whereby the bursae sac becomes inflamed. Both conditions may lead to discomfort, pain, and swelling.
- Avoid: Starting a new diet without exercising.
Do this instead: Exercise along with beginning a new diet.
Why: As people age, they lose muscle mass. This slows down the metabolism. Diets, however, can slow the metabolism even more, in order to conserve energy and keep the body going. To achieve long term health and physical fitness, it’s important to maintain a good metabolic rate by exercising while following a healthy eating plan.
- Avoid: Failing to cool down after a workout.
Do this instead: Perform a 10-minute cooldown routine immediately after your workout to stretch and relax the muscles.
Why: Stretching and relaxing the body after exercise helps to increase muscle control after exercising and helps maintain flexibility and range of motion. This is especially important for seniors as it brings the heart rate, body temperature, blood flow, and breathing rates gently back to pre-exercise levels. This reduces stiffness after exercise and decreases risk of dizziness and fainting.