Prevent Exercise-Related Injuries
Are you a weekend warrior?
Aging puts some limits on how long and how intensely you can exercise. Growing older also makes you more prone to injuries during physical activity. Boomers can be at particular risk though, because they might just be discovering their bodies aren't as young as they used to be. By all means, exercise to stay in shape, but take precautions to prevent injuries.
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, in a year more than 128,000 people between the ages of 45 and 64 were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries related to exercise and exercise equipment.
"When you are 50, your body is more prone to injury than it was when you were 20," says Emmett McEleney, MD, orthopedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) Leadership Fellows Program member. "Joints, tissues and muscles may not be as flexible as they used to be. So, as you get older, you need to take extra steps to protect yourself from injuries when you exercise."
The Academy offers these strategies to help Boomers prevent exercise-related injuries:
- Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program to make sure your heart is in good condition, and determine your current fitness level. This is especially important if you've had a previous injury.
- Always warm up and stretch before exercising. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured, so warm up with some light exercise for at least three to five minutes.
- Don't be a "weekend warrior." Moderate exercise every day is healthier and less likely to result in injury than heavy activity only on weekends.
- Take lessons. An instructor can help you use the proper form, which can prevent overuse injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures.
- Develop a balanced fitness program. Incorporate cardio, strength, and flexibility training to get a total body workout and prevent overuse injuries. Also, introduce new exercises gradually, so you don't take on too much at once.
- Take calcium and vitamin D daily.
- Listen to your body. As you age, you may not be able to do some of the activities that you did years ago. Pay attention to your body's needs and abilities and modify your workout accordingly.