While exercising can be great for maintaining health in older women, there's increased risk of injury. Fitness Magazine reports that nearly 175,000 women visit the emergency room each year suffering injuries sustained while working out. Health problems, such as arthritis or a recent surgery, can increase the risk of an exercise injury.
You can reduce your chances of sustaining injuries if you warm up, cool down and stretch. Mature women with arthritis or who are recovering from surgery can use exercise as a tool for living a more comfortable life. Just make sure to always listen to your body, use the right equipment, perform exercises properly and stay hydrated.
Dress for the exercise you are performing. For example, always wear a helmet when riding a bike and wear properly fitting sneakers if you like to play tennis.
Warm Up and Stretch
Stiff muscles surrounding your joints increase your chance of sustaining an injury. Warming up loosens these areas and increases your heart rate at a safe pace. Jump rope, ride an exercise bike at a leisurely pace or do jumping jacks for at least five minutes to warm up.
Stretching helps increase flexibility and further prepares your muscles for an oncoming workout. Fitness Magazine suggests holding each stretch for approximately 30 seconds, doing it slowly. Never bounce while you are stretching. This causes your muscles to overstretch, making them vulnerable to injury. Stretching serves you best if you do it after you warm up and cool down.
One of the most common injuries is the repetitive-motion injury. This injury occurs when you continually do the same exercises or motions. To prevent this type of injury, mix it up a bit and work different muscles throughout the week. Take a dance class one day and ride a bike to the market the next. Keeping workouts varied will also keep you from getting bored and quitting.
Tailor Your Workout
Build up strength in the areas of your body that have arthritis. This helps protect the joint. Be especially mindful of your limitations if you've recently had surgery, and take your time rebuilding your strength. According to Laser Spine Institute, doctor-directed, post-surgical exercises and stretching promote healing and help you get back to your full strength sooner. Be aware that you may experience some mild muscle soreness after your first few sessions.
Always Listen to Your Body
It is possible to get into shape without being in pain. When you feel pain, you are at risk for sustaining an injury. Discontinue your workout and take a day to rest. Never increase the length of your exercise routine by more than 10 percent at one time. Do not increase the intensity and the length of your workout at the same time.
- Pain or discomfort
- An irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Extreme breathlessness
Watch for pain in the chest or any other area that may indicate a heart attack. These areas include the jaw, neck and shoulder blades. Pain that travels down your arm is also reason for concern.
Always Cool Down
The cool down slowly decreases your heart rate and returns it to normal. Walking for five minutes is a simple way to accomplish this.
Eat Frequently and Drink Plenty of Water
Eat a snack or small meal every two or three hours. This gives your body the fuel it needs to exercise and to continue on with other daily activities. Once you complete a workout, eat a protein snack and a carbohydrate.
You should drink:
- 8 oz. of water 20 minutes before you begin your workout
- 8 oz. of water every 20 minutes during your workout
- 16 oz. of water when you complete your workout
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