This article appears in Summer Boomers magazine.
Those with a goal of turning back the hands of time via the elixir of exercise should know a few things before starting a new regimen, whether exercising indoors or out.
Warm up, then stretch
Starting a workout incorrectly can lead to injury.
“Muscles will respond better to stretching if they are already warm,” said Dr. Shawn Phillips, a primary care sports medicine specialist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “Think of cold versus warm spaghetti noodles — how well do they bend?”
Warm up with walking, light jogging or a short turn on the elliptical machine before stretching.
Static stretching — where you sit and hold a position for 10 or 20 seconds — can help with flexibility issues. Think of side bends or hamstring stretches, where you lean over and touch your toes while sitting with legs in front of you.
Dynamic stretching is a more active stretching like lunges or arm circles.
“That’s what you see more in yoga, where you’re going back and forth and stretching while you are moving a bit,” Phillips said. “It can include lunges or leg raises from a standing position.”
Get the right gear
Whether working out in a climate-controlled gym or outdoors in the heat, pay attention to conditions. Outside, consider wind, precipitation and temperature, and dress in layers that can be removed as the body warms up.
Mix things up
“It’s great to get excited about one particular thing, but it’s best to stay diversified and cross-train rather than doing the same exercise six days a week,” said Dr. Matthew Silvis, medical director of sports medicine at Hershey Medical Center. “You don’t want to get repetitive overuse injuries.”
Find a form of exercise you enjoy and keep doing it. “Any exercise is better than none,” Phillips said.
Respect your limits.
“It’s important to push yourself, but start slow,” Silvis said.
Don’t forget to end your workout by stretching, Phillips said.