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Expert Says Older Exercisers Should Agercise

Sprains and strains are painful, but avid exercisers often see them as little more than a nuisance.

Robert Klapper, MD, calls them something else: a blessing.

“It’s a wake-up call,” said Klapper, co-director of the Joint Replacement Program at Cedars-Sinai.

These injuries are warnings that if you keep doing what you’re doing, you could do major damage. “We need to listen to our bodies,” said Klapper, “especially as we get older.”

When our bodies age, lose elasticity, and can no longer accommodate a movement through stretching, sprains, strains, and other injuries are the result.

But that’s not an excuse to give up working out. Your body still needs exercise—it just needs different types of exercise than it used to.

According to Klapper, the solution is “agercise.”

Klapper encourages physical activity, but urges people to be smart about it. The sport you loved playing in college might not be the best option as you age. Water aerobics and other pool activities are excellent for adults, especially as they get into their 40s and 50s. These workouts allow you to build muscle without hammering on precious cartilage.

Those exercises aren’t enough for people concerned about warding off osteoporosis, however. For that you’ll need to come out of the water. Klapper recommends tai chi: slow, graceful movements performed in a focused and flowing manner with low impact on the joints.

Klapper has seen many patients end up with injuries because they work through pain. If an exercise hurts, stop immediately. It’s a sign you’re doing damage to your body. If parts of your body regularly hurt or the pain doesn’t go away, consult your doctor. Don’t ignore the pain. You could end up needing surgery or other serious interventions.

Klapper divides exercise into two categories: nurturing and abuse.

“We all love the abuse,” he said. “Tennis. Skiing. Running. But keep in mind that you don’t get younger from exercise….”

As you age, you should ease up on the abuse. For nurturing, Klapper suggests the pool, bikes, elliptical machines, and mat Pilates. He’s opposed to treadmills, lunges, squats, stair machines, and weights for the lower limbs.

“When you’re 50, I’m only going to let you have one abuse,” he said. “Hiking. Racquetball. Tennis. Pick one.”

 

Editor’s Note: This article is for informational purposes only. Before beginning an exercise regimen, consult a qualified healthcare professional.

 

This article was adapted from information provided by Cedars-Sinai.

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