Staying Active As You Age

By Dr. John C. Kagan, M.D.

Staying Active As You AgeAging is a fact of life for everyone, but did you know that staying physically active can help you slow the process of aging, keeping your muscles and joints functioning properly, preserving strength in your bones and decreasing your risk of heart attack or stroke? While fitness may be no fountain of youth, regular exercise can greatly enhance your quality of life and help you maintain independence as you age.

Fitness is key to keeping your body happy and healthy, and first we must get active before we can stay active. The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offer a selection of helpful tips that can help you exercise safely, whether you are a frequent exerciser, or simply starting a new routine.

Listen to Your Body
First and foremost, your health and the effectiveness of your exercise routine is truly dependent on listening to your body. You may have noticed that as you age, your flexibility has decreased, or that you cannot tolerate the same types of activities that you did years ago. While no one is happy about getting older, you will be able to prevent injury by modifying your activity to accommodate your body’s needs.

Balanced Fitness
A balanced fitness program should incorporate cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility. In addition to providing a total body workout, a balanced program will keep you from getting bored and lessen your chances of injury.

Warm Up
Research has shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury, so it is important to take time to warm up and stretch before any type of physical activity. Warming up before stretching is essential, as stretching cold muscles may cause injury. Start off with jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes, and then gently stretch, holding each pose for 30 seconds.

Cool Down
Cooling down is just as important as warming up, so be sure be sure to make this part of your post-
exercise routine. Gentle stretching after physical activity prepares your body for the next time you exercise, and will make recovery from your workout much easier.

Consistent Exercise Program
It is essential to maintain a consistent exercise program in order to avoid overdoing it. Condensing a week’s worth of exercise into two days will cause more harm than good, and does not increase your fitness level. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If your schedule is too hectic, consider breaking this time period into 10-minute sections. Always remember that exercise can be completed along with everyday tasks – moderate physical activity can include walking the dog, working in the garden, playing with the kids and taking the stairs instead of an elevator.

Use the Ten Percent Rule
When changing your activity level, increase it in increments of no more than 10 percent per week. If you typically walk two miles a day and want to increase your fitness level, slowly build up to more miles each week until you reach your higher goal. When strength training, use this rule as your guide and increase your weights gradually.

Always be cautious when adding activities and new exercises into your fitness routine. Whether you are new to the fitness scene, or are in good physical shape, do not try to take on too many activities at once. It is best to add no more than one or two new activities per workout.

If you have or have had a sports or orthopedic injury like tendinitis, arthritis, a stress fracture or lower back pain, consult an orthopedic surgeon who can help design a fitness routine to promote wellness and minimize the chance of injury. Dr. John C. Kagan and his staff are ready to answer all of your questions regarding staying active as you age. Dr. Kagan has more than 30 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist treating patients in Southwest Florida. He specializes in treating patients with knee, shoulder and hip pain, as well as general orthopedics and hand surgery. For more information, visit www.kaganortho.com or call 239-936-6778.

Dr. John C. Kagan and his staff are ready to answer all of your questions regarding post-surgical physical therapy. Dr. Kagan has more than 30 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist treating patients in Southwest Florida. He specializes in treating patients with knee, shoulder and hip pain, as well as general orthopedics and hand surgery. For more information, visit www.kaganortho.com or call 239-936-6778.

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