Wor­ri­some Work­outs

How to get back in—or be­gin— the fit­ness game

Alternative Medicine - - Health News & Tips - BY BRADLEY THOMAS, MD

stand­ing among var­i­ous body­builders and gym fre­quenters who know their way around a bench blind­folded and lift weights as though dumb­bells are nat­u­ral ex­ten­sions of their siz­able limbs. This might fill you with in­spi­ra­tion, tempt­ing you to put away that 15-pounder in lieu of some­thing more in league with other gym oc­cu­pants. If you haven’t been to the gym in a while, or ever, now is a wise time to re­think that strat­egy.

Start­ing a new ex­er­cise rou­tine for those more than 40 years old re­quires a hum­ble ap­proach and a slow be­gin­ning. To avoid in­juries like strained mus­cles and ten­dons, torn car­ti­lage, and stress frac­tures, I ad­vise be­gin­ning by load­ing joints grad­u­ally, with overt at­ten­tion to warm-up, stretch­ing, and mas­sag­ing sore mus­cles. And work­outs should al­ways be sep­a­rated by a day of rest and re­cov­ery fo­cus­ing on hy­dra­tion and nu­tri­tion.

Keep it slow and easy in the be­gin­ning to build a foun­da­tion of mus­cle aware­ness and con­fi­dence rather than overex­ert­ing your­self from the check­ered flag. Con­sider a 20- to 30-minute run to start. As you progress, both in­ten­sity and du­ra­tion can ramp up and your work­out can reach 60 to 90 min­utes. Run­ning, for ex­am­ple, can be­gin with a 30-minute brisk walk three times per week for two weeks. In­crease to a 30-minute jog three times per week for two more weeks, then slowly in­crease time and ef­fort as you go. Once you’re used to your new rou­tine, you can care­fully in­crease the dif­fi­culty of your reg­i­men. This slow pro­gres­sion tech­nique al­lows your mus­cles, ten­dons, and joints to ac­com­mo­date to sub­stan­tial weight load­ing, which will help pre­vent in­jury.

As for in­jury, pay at­ten­tion to pain that does not re­solve with rest, swelling of a joint, and pain that feels like pin-pricks when touched. Sore­ness is one thing, but do not try to “run through the pain” if it doesn’t go away in 5 to 10 min­utes dur­ing a run or work­out. Re­mem­ber, ex­er­cise is sup­posed to be fun and re­ward­ing, so en­joy your­self and the re­sults will come.

Bradley Thomas, MD, at­tended UCSD, is a cer­ti­fied sports medicine spe­cial­ist, and works hard to keep ev­ery­one play­ing a lit­tle longer. He spe­cial­izes in sports in­jury pre­ven­tion, min­i­mally in­va­sive surgery, and to date, is one of a se­lect few or­tho­pe­dic sur­geons per­form­ing car­ti­lage re­place­ment.

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