Exercise, we all know it’s good for us and we all know we need it. Exercise has long been proven to decrease our blood pressure, build strength, increase our immune response, decrease our resting heart rate and is the single best way to maintain bone density, (sorry milk). For some of us, finding the time is the biggest hurdle. For others, it’s motivation and for many more, it's because of pain. Either we have injured ourselves in the past and are afraid of and legitimate concerns.
Re-injury or current pain is preventing us from even thinking about exercise. These are very real. As a Chiropractor with advanced training in extremity issues, I see this scenario daily. A person wants to workout and tries to but every month or so injures themselves. Often times an overzealous trainer or workout DVD pushes the person harder and faster then they should and injury occurs. The mantra, “No pain, no gain,” refers to pain or soreness that’s temporary and associated with high levels of strength or endurance training, not pain that we feel when we are just beginning to move or exercise.
Chances are, that you were more active when you were younger and if you are a weekend warrior, you’re probably finding you aren't recovering as fast as you did months and years ago. While age is certainly a factor, the good news is that exercise can be started at virtually any age with amazing results. An important study of weight lifting and older adults conducted with 100 male and female residents of a nursing home in Boston (age range: 72 to 98 years of age; average age 87), subjects lifted weights with their legs three times a week for 10 weeks. At the end of the study, there was an increase in thigh mass of 2.7%, walking speed increased 12%, and leg strength increased a whopping 113%!
For those thinking about getting into exercise and are worried about injuring themselves, what can they do to check that they are ready? Well, the best way is to visit a Doctor like myself for a strength and flexibility evaluation to determine if they are ready to start an exercise routine. For those actually in pain, this is also the perfect time for a health evaluation. One of the worst things you can do is to try to exercise through the pain. One of the best things you can do is listen to your body. When your body is properly aligned, you will be amazed how you can not only exercise free from pain, but actually push yourself safely towards amazing results.
Once your body is in check, the key is starting simple. Most of us aren't looking to enter bodybuilding competitions. We want to be able to work around the house over the weekend or simply play with our kids without pain. I usually recommend patients start slowly at home with stretches and walking. Take a regular walk around your neighborhood. Movement is one of those physiological keys to life and health. Once the person is comfortable with that, it's a great time to move to more challenging activities, but slowly. For example, add some pushups and crunches to your walking routine. The way to get the best results is also to change your routine every month or two. This will keep challenging your body in different ways.
The amazing thing about exercise, is that the more you do it, the better you’ll feel and the greater likelihood that you’ll be able to increase your activity and continue exercising. So, start simply, or just simply start! If you’re concerned about your ability to start, please visit me for a complementary health screening.