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Everybody needs exercise.  It's great for the heart, the lungs, the muscles, and even the brain.  In short, those that maintain a reasonable and regular exercise program will live longer and healthier lives.

The dangers that come with exercise are generally associated with going into an exercise program without proper precautions.   

Before you begin any exercise program, consult with your physician to make sure that there are no personal health issues that need to be addressed.  

Here are a few tips that will help you get going and keep going:

  • Especially if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle and are just beginning to exercise, start slowly. Increase your effort and activity level gradually. You will be more prone to injury if you try to do too much or go too far during your first exercise sessions.

  • Follow the advice you give the grandchildren: use all the safety equipment appropriate for your activity. For example, if you are cycling, wear a helmet. If you play squash, use eye protection.

  • You've probably heard that you should stretch before exercising, but do a short warm-up first. Go for a short walk or cycle or stand in place and pump your arms and legs. Then do some easy stretching.

  • Remember to breathe while you exercise! Many people tend to hold their breath while they exert effort with their muscles. Concentrate on breathing out while you use your muscles (for example, when you're lifting a heavy object) and breathing in as you relax. This can seem strange at first but it is the correct way to breathe while exercising. 

  • If you have a condition or take a medication that has an effect on your heart rate (beta blockers, for example), do not count your heartbeats or take your pulse as a way of judging how hard you are exercising. 

  • Most people need to drink extra water or other fluids as they exercise and sweat. Many seniors become dehydrated easily, even when they are not exercising, so unless your doctor has told you to limit fluids, you should be sure to drink enough.

  • If you need to bend over, bend from the hips and not from the waist. You'll know you're doing it correctly and safely if your back is straight. If you have a "hump" in your back you're likely doing it wrong.

  • No form of physical activity should be painful or exhausting. However, especially when you are starting out you may have some muscle soreness or stiffness or feel a little tired. But if you start slowly and increase your activity gradually, getting some exercise will make you feel healthier and more energetic.


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