More safety first for seniors!

2013September09_SeniorActivity_ADiana Nyad has become the first person to swim the 100+ miles across the Straits of Florida between Cuba and Florida, after a determined fifth attempt at the three day treacherous swim. Impressive by any standards but even more so when you consider that Diana is 64. Gone are the days when the over 60s were expected to sit back and do nothing. However, it’s one thing to be determined and dynamic and another to be dangerous. Safety should always come first, whatever age you are, and while you may be more active than you’ve ever been, as you age your body may need some extra protection.

A muscle pounding, cardiovascular challenge, long distance US swimmer Diana Nyad also had to face stinging jellyfish, not to mention circling sharks. While she definitely took the plunge she didn’t do it without thinking about safety first. She wore a customized protective face mask and creams to stop jellyfish from stinging, and although she swam outside of a shark cage she had a shark team in place to deter any attacks.

Even if you’re not considering such a marathon sporting attempt, you still need to exercise in a safe way, otherwise you could end up putting your health and fitness on the line:

  • Don’t crash and burn – When you exercise your heart and lungs pump oxygenated blood to your muscles. However, as you age your maximum heart rate does decline. This means that your muscles won’t have the capacity to work to the same intensity as they might have done in the past. If you push yourself too far you might come to an almighty halt as you crash and burn.

  • Avoid extreme temperatures – 40% of heat-related fatalities in the US are in the over 65 age group. Often, age means that you are less able to regulate heat or that you are not as able to pick up on body temperature changes and will get dehydrated easier. Sometimes dehydration can be as a result of medications too. Whether you exercise inside or outdoors, being aware of temperature control is important.

  • Low intensity rising – You don’t need to be involved with high intensity training as a senior to feel the results of many health promoting benefits. If you start at too high an intensity then you risk straining or spraining muscles and causing damage to tendons and ligaments. Build up slowly and steadily and always go with what feels comfortable.

  • Low impact – Many exercise and fitness classes are tough on joints and as you age these can be real weak points. What they need is support and not a real slamming. Arthritis pain can be relieved by low impact exercises too and this lighter style of working out minimizes the risk of injuries.

  • Be aware of your environment – When you try something new or change where you exercise you need to really take in what is around you. Then you can enter the zone let go and enjoy yourself without putting yourself at risk. Are there lots of people coming and going? What about equipment and machines? Are you affected by the climate? What about busy roads or remote trails? Be alert and do a quick risk assessment in your mind before making any necessary provisions for your safety.

  • Stop if you feel ill or in pain – You don’t need to be a fitness expert to know that if you start to feel ‘off’ when you’re working out then you need to stop. If you’re concerned about how you feel then you might want to get yourself checked out by a medical professional. Listening to your body is not just about feeling connected but a safety monitor to flag up any potential health issues.

  • Focus on functional training – As you get older you want to be able to carry on doing all the things you’ve always done, right? Unless you’re another Diana Nyad, the chances are your ambition is not necessarily to break a record but to keep your health robust and be able to do everyday things. To sustain or improve flexibility, range of motion and strength adopt functional training that is geared toward maintaining this quality of life.

If you are looking to improve your quality of life, contact us today to see how we can help.

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