Becoming Active as a Senior

It’s no secret that exercise is important at any age, but it’s important to take the necessary precautions before beginning an exercise program. For anyone over the age of 55, it’s important to gradually begin a new workout program. Ease in and start slow to avoid the risk of overexerting and causing an injury. Once you become more comfortable with your exercise regimen, you may gradually increase your level of exertion.

Meeting with your physician before starting the program is also a good idea so that you may outline your health goals and ensure your body is ready for the new exercise program.

Aerobics

Start with walking. Use a pedometer to track your daily steps, and make it a goal to gradually increase the number of steps you take each day. Try parking further back and taking the stairs instead of elevators. Once you’ve made walking a habit, set goals to increase your distance. Walking a half mile every other day is a great start. Reduce the risk of injury while walking by wearing shoes that provide ample stability and support.

After you have made good progression with your walking practices, consider ways you can cross train – that is, incorporate different exercises into your fitness regime. Cycling, yoga and tai chi are efficient ways to cross train.

If you suffer from joint pain, water exercise may be the best option for you. The water eliminates pressure on joints, as it is low-impact, allowing you to exercise with less weight.

Flexibility and Agility

After completing any form of aerobic training, it’s important to stretch your muscles. This will reduce potential soreness and increase flexibility, while in turn, reducing the risk for injury. It’s important to have warmed-up muscles while you stretch, and breathe deeply.

 Strength

If you want to incorporate strength training into your fitness plan, it’s essential to speak with your doctor first. Strength training can include body weight exercises, free weights, resistance bands, weight machines and everything in between. It may be beneficial to join a fitness club, where trainers can provide you with a safe, customized workout program.

Relaxation

Take some time to rest your muscles and relax. Relaxation can relieve stress, lower blood pressure and improve your overall health. Treat yourself to a massage or participate in a beginner’s yoga class.

Hydration and Nutrition

Our bodies need around 64 ounces of water daily, and that number increases when you’re involved in a fitness program. The amount of water needed on a daily basis varies from person to person. Sometimes the sensation of hunger can really indicate dehydration, so keep a bottle of water with you at all times.

Nourish your body with whole grains, leans meats, fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods. This will help provide your body with more energy while exercising.

If any injuries are holding you back from beginning a healthy exercise program, contact your Campbell Clinic physician today.

This blog post was adapted from AAOS.

Physical Therapy Services

Physical therapists, under the referral and medical direction of physicians, work closely with patients to aid in the recovery process after an injury or surgery. Using a wide variety of equipment and therapeutic modalities, they can help develop a plan for patients to improve long-term health and rehabilitate injured bones, muscles and tendons. Reducing pain, restoring mobility and improving overall levels of function are physical therapists’ top priorities.

A successful PT regimen will not only hasten the healing and rehab process for an injured or repaired part of the body, but it should also ultimately help strengthen the site to lessen the likelihood of future injury. The goal is to eventually return a patient to a similar level of activity as they experienced prior to injury. Initially, a physical therapist might employ modalities aimed at reducing swelling and gradually restoring range of motion. Later, proprioception exercises allow a patient to restore function and balance as they “re-learn” the sense of how neighboring muscles and bones work in tandem with the rehabilitated part of their body. For an ankle or knee injury, as an example, this might mean balance exercises standing on one foot that help improve coordination and strength.

Campbell Clinic specializes in orthopaedic and sports medicine physical therapy services, including spine rehabilitation, sports injury rehabilitation, post-operative care, aquatic therapy, orthotics/splinting, pediatric and geriatric orthopaedic rehabilitation and work injury management. Physical therapy is offered at all five of our locations (Germantown, Medical Center, Southaven, Spine Center and Collierville).