From New Goals to Physical Therapy

6 Things to Know About Aging and Exercise

When you were a teenag­er, your goal may have been to get recruit­ed by the big leagues. When you were in your 20s, your goal may have been to run a half marathon. In your 30s, it might have been to amp up your exer­cis­ing in order to improve strength and mobility.

You might not have those same goals in mind, but the impor­tance of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty doesn’t go away as you get old­er. Between new med­ical con­di­tions that affect flex­i­bil­i­ty or cause pain, or the weak­en­ing of bones that comes nat­u­ral­ly with age, it’s the approach that may need to change.

For­tu­nate­ly, you don’t have to change your approach alone — and that’s where a sports med­i­cine phys­i­cal ther­a­pist comes in.

Here are 6 tips from about adjust­ing your work­outs as you grow older.

1. Work With a Phys­i­cal Ther­a­pist Even When You’re Not Injured

There are many ben­e­fits of see­ing a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist even when you’re not recov­er­ing from an injury. They can help you:

  • Pre­vent falls and injuries

  • Improve bal­ance, strength, and flexibility

  • Learn about safe­ty in your home

  • Find com­mu­ni­ty exer­cise programs

  • Low­er your risk of injuryRe­duce pain caused by a chron­ic con­di­tion, such as osteoporosis

  • Main­tain your inde­pen­dence and confidence

Your ther­a­pist will assess your over­all health, lifestyle, and per­son­al risk fac­tors, and com­mu­ni­cate with your oth­er health­care providers, to devel­op an exer­cise pro­gram that is right for you. 

2. Cre­ate New Goals

Come up with new goals that are more sus­tain­able and are not based on a spe­cif­ic event, like a race. Instead, think about how you can use exer­cise to over­come some of the chal­lenges of health prob­lems that are com­mon with aging. For exam­ple, your goals could be:

  • Do low-impact swim­ming to relieve pain from osteoarthritis

  • Prac­tice Tai Chi (a form of mar­tial arts that orig­i­nat­ed in Chi­na) to improve bal­ance, which can decrease your risk of falls and bro­ken bones

  • Take up yoga to strength­en your bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis

  • Go on brisk walks to low­er your risk of depression

3. Revamp Your Workout

For some old­er adults, high-inten­si­ty exer­cise pro­grams are a good fit. But for oth­ers, they might not be prac­ti­cal or safe.

If you’re used to intense and vig­or­ous activ­i­ties like hik­ing or run­ning — but it’s no longer right for you — you don’t need to com­plete­ly give up on exer­cise. Switch to mod­er­ate-inten­si­ty exer­cis­es, like brisk walk­ing or water aer­o­bics. Trade bench press­es for low-impact strength train­ing exer­cis­es like squats or climb­ing stairs. 

It might also be a good time to try yoga or pilates. These exer­cis­es are easy on your joints, improve bal­ance, and can some­times be done while you are sit­ting or reclin­ing. Addi­tion­al­ly, they have been shown to reduce symp­toms of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, arthri­tis, and Parkinson’s disease.

The Nation­al Coun­cil on Aging has great resources cov­er­ing a wide vari­ety of top­ics about exer­cise for seniors from stay­ing moti­vat­ed to work­ing with a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist to the best exer­cis­es if you have cer­tain med­ical conditions.

Also read, Vari­ety and Recov­ery: Keys to Exer­cise Success”

4. Resist the Urge to Compare

Every­one has dif­fer­ent bod­ies, and what works for one per­son won’t nec­es­sar­i­ly work for you. When you com­pare your­self to oth­ers, it can leave you feel­ing defeat­ed and down about yourself.

This is true at any time in your life, and your old­er years are no excep­tion. Not only does every­one have dif­fer­ent ath­let­ic abil­i­ties in gen­er­al, but they also age differently.

Just as impor­tant is not com­par­ing your cur­rent abil­i­ties to those you had two decades ago. Not hav­ing the same sta­mi­na or the skills as you used to can be a dif­fi­cult pill to swal­low, but it’s com­plete­ly nor­mal. It doesn’t mean that you’re no longer strong or that you haven’t been tak­ing care of yourself. 

Learn about cre­at­ing an exer­cise plan that’s right for your per­son­al needs. Sched­ule an appoint­ment with a Duly Health and Care Sports Med­i­cine Phys­i­cal Therapist.

5. Con­sult Your Provider

It’s com­mon to see warn­ings that instruct you to talk to your provider before begin­ning a new work­out rou­tine. You may take these warn­ings with a grain of salt, but if you have devel­oped cer­tain med­ical con­di­tions as you have got­ten old­er, some exer­cis­es might not be safe.

For exam­ple, if you have osteo­poro­sis, high-impact exer­cis­es like run­ning or jump­ing could cause weak­ened bones to break. 

If you have a chron­ic con­di­tion, talk to your provider before start­ing a new exer­cise reg­i­men to make sure that it will be safe and effective. 

Also read, Grow­ing Old Grace­ful­ly: Steps You Can Take Now That Will Keep You Feel­ing Your Best as You Age”

6. Lis­ten to Your Body

Stay­ing active is essen­tial for your health — but so is know­ing when to take a break. You may not be able to run a 10k any­more, or lift­ing heavy weights might become dif­fi­cult. Don’t push it. If your body is telling you that you need to take a break or low­er the inten­si­ty of an activ­i­ty, lis­ten. Your body will thank you later

  • I strive to restore functional mobility and teach patients how to manage their condition to prevent relapse. I focus on the Importance of treating the cause of the problem, not just the symptoms!