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Tips for Older Adults: Ways to Avoid Injuries During Sports and Exercise
Your Aging Body
How to Avoid Injury
- Get a basic medical screening. Talk with your doctor. Find out if you have any conditions that would put you in jeopardy while exercising. If you have a chronic condition that is limiting, you may be able to work out an activity plan within the scope of your ability.
- Find a balanced exercise program. Do not rely on one sport to keep you in shape. Follow a program that includes cardiovascular activity, strength training, and stretching.
- Warm up before and cool down after physical activity. Adding a few minutes to your warm up can make your workouts smoother. Cold muscles are more prone to injury, which is why you are asking for trouble if you skip the warm-up. Try some light jogging or walking.
- Keep it regular. You will not make gains in fitness by cramming your activity into the weekend. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Take lessons. Hire a trained professional to help you attain and maintain proper form in your sport, even if it is weight training.
- Get the right equipment for your sport. You want to make sure the gear you use for your activity is in good shape and used properly. Think about the condition of your shoes, or if you will need a helmet.
- Follow the 10% rule. When you are ready to increase your activity level, do so in 10% increments. In other words, increase activity small increments per week. This rule also applies to working with weights.
- Be cautious about adding new exercises. Whether you are a seasoned fitness enthusiast or new to exercise, avoid taking on too many activities at once. Add activities gradually.
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to the messages your body is sending you. If your knees hurt after you ski, find an easier ski run or maybe think about a different activity that does not hurt your knees.
- Seek professional help if you injure yourself. Consult your doctor for any injury that is not relieved with home care. Some injuries require medical treatment and will not go away on their own.
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans www.health.gov/paguidelines/
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org/
Healthy Canadians http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca
Public Heath of Canada Healthy Living Unit http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
Effects of Aging. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00191. Updated September 2009. Accessed December 3, 2012.
Making Physical Activity a Part of an Older Adult's Life. Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/getactive/olderadults.html. November 9, 2011. Accessed December 3, 2012.
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. United States Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/. Updated October 16, 2008. Accessed December 3, 2012.
Sports Injury Prevention for Baby Boomers. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00178. Updated August 2011. Accessed December 3, 2012.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 12/2012
- Update Date: 12/03/2012