Staying Active and Safe as You Grow Older
Fitness & TrainingInjury Care & Prevention Nov 16, 2015
Staying Active and Safe as You Grow Older

Age brings a variety of changes to your body, including decreased muscle mass and strength, slower reaction times, and less flexibility. All these changes can increase your risk of injury. Fortunately, you can reduce that risk by following these tips.

Warm-Up and Cool Down

Performing a complete warm-up before a physical activity is particularly important as you age. Warm ups increase blood flow and help loosen muscles and joints, improving flexibility, and reducing the odds you’ll get injured. Warm up with a lower intensity version of the activity you are about to perform. If you’re planning on going for jog, start by walking.

Cooling down is just as important as warming up. If you stop exercising abruptly, your heart rate and blood pressure drop rapidly, which can lead to dizziness. Spend the last 10 minutes of your exercise session walking or performing the activity at a slower place.

Increase Your Activity Level Gradually

Whether your new goal is to set a race record or simply to walk up the stairs without being winded, it’s important to increase your activity level gradually. Trying to do too much too quickly can lead to painful joint and muscle ailments. If you don’t exercise at all, consider starting with small lifestyle changes like walking up stairs instead of taking elevators.

Remove Falling Hazards

Even minor falls can become more serious as you age. Prevent them by taking precautions:

  • Make sure rugs are securely attached to the floor.
  • Remove tripping hazards, such as piles of books and magazines on the floor.
  • Use sturdy step stools to reach objects stored overhead, or find lower storage options.
  • Use night lights along your paths in your home.
  • Remove snow and ice from steps and sidewalks promptly.

Choose Footwear Wisely

Your shoes not only provide protection from rocks and sharp objects, they also help you maintain your balance. When heels become rundown or soles lose traction, falls are more likely to occur. Keeping shoes in good condition is particularly important if you’re a runner. Although the shoes may look fine, over time the cushioning wears down. It’s a good idea to replace your shoes every 500 miles to avoid potential injuries.

Getting older doesn’t have to mean being less active, but it may mean being more careful. Active seniors have fewer health care costs, including primary care and pharmacy charges. They also live longer, have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and weigh less overall. If you’re concerned about injury, talk with your primary health care provider about what you can do to stay as healthy as possible.