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If you're elderly, take a few precautions before exercising.
Exercise and a healthy lifestyle go hand-in-hand. This is true even as you age. Unfortunately, as you grow older, the risks associated with exercise increases, but that's no reason to avoid working out. In many cases, the pros far outweigh the cons. With a few precautions, you can exercise as safely as you did during your younger years.
Exercise Can Be Risky Business
The body changes as you age; muscle mass and bone density declines, and you become less balanced and coordinated. These changes put seniors at risk of falls and fractures. The heart also changes. Diseases such as arteriosclerosis and hypertension increase with age, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Because of these changes, the elderly should get a physician's approval before initiating an exercise routine, especially if you were previously sedentary or have a chronic disease.
Wear Appropriate Footwear and Clothing
Think of shoes as your feet's safety equipment, according to the National Institute on Aging. Wear shoes based on your chosen activity. For example, if you're a walker, wear walking shoes rather than tennis shoes. Opt for well-fitted, comfortable shoes that offer non-skid soles and heel support. Another precaution, your shoes should be in good shape; the tread should be ample, not worn. And your feet shouldn't feel tired after wearing them, according to the National Institute on Aging. Like shoes, your clothing also prevents injury; clothing should be loose and comfortable enough to allow fluid movement.
Know When to Stop
Exercise should never be painful. If you develop pain or pressure in your chest or anywhere else in your body, that is a sign to immediately stop exercising and contact a healthcare provider. Also, be aware of dizziness, weakness and shortness of breath. Pay attention to your heart. If your heart skips or beats uncomfortably fast, talk to your doctor immediately, according to the "Journal of the American Medical Association."
Get Moving Safely
Drink 6 to 8 oz. of water to avoid dehydration. And don't exercise during extreme temperatures. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends three to five days of moderate-intensity activities -- such as walking and swimming -- each week for older adults. Perform 30 to 60 minutes of these activities. This can be broken up into easier, shorter bouts, lasting 10 minutes. Be sure to begin each exercise session with at least five minutes of slow activity. For example, if you're walking on a treadmill start at a slow pace. If you do use cardio machines, choose ones with sturdy handrail support and an emergency stop button.
Guidelines for Pumping Iron
Seniors also benefit from at least two days of full-body resistance training, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For example, include exercises such as bicep curls, shoulder press, chair squats and sitting knee extensions. Seniors should start off with light weights that are heavy enough to slowly lift between eight and 20 times, recommends the National Academy of Sports Medicine. If this sounds intimidating, hire a personal trainer or exercise physiologist who can show you proper lifting form and design a safe program for you.