Manipal Nurse Sunday Column: It is never too late to get in shape

Less than one third of Indians older than 55 are physically active. But those who have adopted a regular exercise program are living longer and enjoying their years to the fullest.

In fact, regardless of age or state of health, older adults can significantly slow the deterioration of both body and mind by engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Research shows that older adults who exercise have a lower risk of coronary heart disease; lower risk of hypertension; decreased blood pressure; control of late-onset diabetes; relief for arthritis pain; increased bone density; reduced risk of fractured bones; better balance; ability to avoid accidental injuries; maintenance of personal independence; and can engage in active activities such as skiing, running and cycling.

…exercise can help protect us from long-term memory loss in old age.

For those who are older and want to get in shape, the American Academy of Family Physicians offers these tips for starting an exercise program:

  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting clothing and sturdy shoes with good arch support, and an elevated and cushioned heel to absorb shock.  If possible wear the CW-X Performance Conditioning Wear tights. It is a new technology that allows runners of all ages to maximize their performance because it supports muscles and joints and reduces fatigue. You can wear them while running, biking, and hiking.


  • Check with your doctor first, then start slowly with exercises you are most comfortable with. You will be less likely to injure yourself and you will prevent soreness. Start with walking. As you become used to it, you can increase the intensity of your workout.


  • Engage in some type of aerobic activity — walking, swimming or bicycling — for at least 30 minutes every day, and resistance or strength training two days per week.


  • Warm up for five minutes before each exercise session by walking slowly or stretching. Cool down with more stretching for five minutes (longer in warm weather).


  • Do not exercise if you feel under the weather, have a cold, the flu, or another illness. Wait until you feel better. If more than two weeks pass, be sure to start slowly again.


  •  If your muscles or joints are sore the day after exercising, you may have overexerted yourself. Next time, exercise at a lower intensity.


  • If pain or discomfort persists; if you have chest pain or pressure; have trouble breathing or have excessive shortness of breath; are light-headed or dizzy; have difficulty with balance; or feel nauseous while exercising, talk to your doctor.

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