Getting started with exercise
From the NIH archives (National Institute of Health)
Your doctor can help you get moving again
Exercise and physical activity are great for your mental and physical health and help keep you independent as you age. Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind when beginning to exercise.
Three questions to ask your doctor about exercise
Are you considering adding exercise to your daily routine or significantly increasing your level of activity? Talk to your doctor about the exercises and physical activities that are best for you. During your appointment, you can ask:
1. Are there any exercises or activities I should avoid?
Your doctor can make recommendations based on your health history, keeping in mind any recent surgeries or ongoing health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease. This would be a great time to check with your doctor about any unexplained symptoms you’ve been experiencing, such as chest pain or pressure, joint pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath. Your doctor may recommend postponing exercise until the problem is diagnosed and treated.
2. Is my preventive care up to date?
Your doctor can tell you if there are any tests you might need. For example, women over age 65 should be checked regularly for osteoporosis.
3. How does my health condition affect my ability to exercise?
Some health conditions can affect your exercise routine. For example, people with arthritis may need to avoid some types of activity, especially when joints are swollen or inflamed. Those with diabetes may need to adjust their daily schedule, meal plan, or medications when planning their activities. Your doctor can talk to you about any adjustments you need to make to ensure that you get the most out of your new exercise routine.
Start slowly when beginning exercise
The key to being successful and safe when beginning a physical activity routine is to build slowly from your current fitness level. Over-exercising can cause injury, which may lead to quitting. A steady rate of progress is the best approach.
To play it safe and reduce your risk of injury:
- Begin your exercise program slowly with low-intensity exercises.
- Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward.
- Pay attention to your surroundings when exercising outdoors.
- Drink water before, during, and after your workout session, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Play catch, kickball, basketball, or soccer.
- Wear appropriate fitness clothes and shoes for your activity.
- If you have specific health conditions, discuss your exercise and physical activity plan with your health care provider.