Exercise Safety Preparation
Before beginning any new exercise program, for your own safety, you should talk with your doctor. Though almost every doctor is thrilled with his or her patients doing any kind of safe exercise, you may have a condition or medication that requires special precautions.
Conditions That May Affect Your Balance
Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, neuropathy, stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia – all of these affect the nervous system in some way and result in less than optimal communication of the balance network.
Inner ear problems like vertigo – anything affecting the inner ear may throw off your equilibrium.
Eye problems like cataracts – the eyes provide a large amount of information to the balance network, so anything that is affecting your sight can impact your balance.
Medications – certain drugs for blood pressure, depression, and allergies can affect your balance. You may be on medication to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. Always check with your doctor to be sure.
Safety When Working Out
Shoulders, Knees And Elbows – as we get older these joints are of increasing concern. Rotator cuff injuries need constant slow work. Be careful when raising your arms overhead. Don’t hyperextend your knees and avoid twisting; they are only meant to bend and then to straighten. Don’t squat lower than that point where your thighs are parallel to the ground. Always keep ‘soft’ knees – that is slightly bent. Safety first.
Body Balance – whatever you do to the right side of your body, do to the left side also. Whatever you do to the front, do to the back. A complete system ha s balance, so if a muscle is tight you should stretch it out, and if a muscle is weak, you should strengthen it.
Breathing – when working out, you should never hold your breath. Concentrate on deep, even breathing. Holding your breath can elevate your blood pressure.
Pace – keep at a pace that feels good to you, don’t overdo it. If you feel pain…STOP. Do not try to work through it. If some days you feel sick or just out of it, skip the workout or just do part of it.
Discipline – you must be aware that this is a lifestyle approach not just about exercising. You must workout on a continual basis for real results. You can always do something. If you just can’t do weights on a particular day, go for a walk or go swimming. This type of discipline is the hardest part of working out. Often people find that once they get started they enjoy it after the first 5-10 minutes…but it takes time to get to that level. Enjoy it but keep safety in mind.
Arthritis- There are many types of arthritis which cause pain and stiff joints. This really creates a downward spiral for many people. It hurts so they don’t do it. The joint then becomes stiffer and the muscle weaker. An easy strength program can pay big dividends by preventing muscle atrophy which in turn better supports the joints and also contributes to bone strength and density. You can exercise with arthritis.
Back Pain - Many things contribute to back pain; imbalanced muscles, poor posture, herniated discs, etc. It is important that your doctor advises you about your specific issue to avoid further injury. Earlier I talked about working on the “core” muscles. These are the girdle of muscles that support the upper body. It includes abdominals that are located in front and on the side (obliques) of your stomach, and the lower back muscles. These muscles support the spine and help keep you upright. Working on this muscle group can solve many problems and many back issues because they are normally ignored.
If we are exercising in order to improve our lifestyle, then we must focus on exercise safety.
It is pretty silly if we are constantly injured from exercising!