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Keep Exercising, but Keep Safe From Injury

There are precautions to take to ensure an injury-free workout

NIH/National Institute on Aging

You may already know that exercise is an important part of staying healthy.

But how can you stay safe while exercising?

The good news is that exercise and moderate physical activity are safe for almost everyone, including older adults. Here are a few things to keep in mind while exercising.

1. Take precautions to avoid injury. The key to exercising safely, especially when just beginning an exercise program, is moderation.

  • When starting an exercise program, start slowly with low-intensity exercises.
  • Wait at least 2 hours after eating a large meal before doing strenuous exercise.
  • Wear appropriate shoes and comfortable, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Warm up with low-intensity exercises at the beginning of each exercise session.
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise, even if you aren’t feeling thirsty.
  • If exercising outdoors, pay attention to your surroundings, including the weather, traffic hazards, uneven walking surfaces and strangers.

2. Keep an eye out for signs that you should stop exercising. You might experience minor discomfort or muscle soreness when you start to exercise. This should go away as you get used to the activities. However, if an exercise is too intense, your body will give you stronger signals that you need to stop. If you experience any of the following, stop exercising and follow up with your doctor to discuss your symptoms and any modifications you should consider.

  • Pain or pressure in your chest, neck, shoulder or arm.
  • Dizziness or feeling sick to your stomach.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Severe pain in joints, feet, ankles or legs.

3. Consider talking with your doctor. In some situations, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine. If you have an ongoing health condition or certain other health problems, like diabetes, heart disease or arthritis, or if you haven’t seen your doctor for a while, check with your doctor about your plans to start exercising.

This material is provided by Go4Life, the exercise and physical activity campaign for adults over 50 from the National Institute on Aging at NIH.

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