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To Exercise or No? How Many Choices Do I Have?
by Marjorie Dorfman

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Talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program if you have a medical condition like high blood pressure, chest or shoulder pain, dizziness, breathlessness after mild exertion, are middle-aged or older and haven’t been physically active, or if you are planning a vigorous exercise program. Good, moderate exercises to consider include: walking, using the stairs, gardening or housework (ugh!), dancing and exercising at home. Set guidelines that will help make your exercise time enjoyable. (I postpone it forever and I usually have a good, although somewhat flabby time.) Exercise the same time every day so that it becomes a part of your daily routine. Set realistic goals that relate to your own individual needs. They should be specific, not vague. For example, "I’ll walk 10 miles this week" works a lot better than "I might try to exercise today if it doesn’t rain or there’s not a good movie on or if I’m in the mood."

joggerAvoid the "too much, too soon" syndrome, and I am not referring to the 1950s movie about Winston Churchill’s daughter, Sara. Do not overdo exercise once you have decided that you can’t put it off any longer and become convinced that the gods will somehow get even with you if you don’t. Start a new exercise at a relatively low intensity and gradually increase the level of exertion over a number of weeks. In general, don’t increase your training load by more than 10% per week. Forget about "no pain, no gain". Exercise should require some effort, but pain is a warning sign and should not be ignored. General muscle soreness that comes after exercise is another matter and usually indicates that you are not warming up sufficiently or that you are exercising too long or too strenuously.

Avoid rapid jerky movements and twisting and turning as they can set the stage for injury. As you move your limbs, keep the muscles contracted and move them as if pushing against some resistance. Of course, the movements of jerks to your right or left are not and cannot be your responsibility. The limbs you save can only be your own. Keep your back aligned even though by doing so you won’t be able to watch it like your Uncle Vinny said you should. Do it anyway, particularly when jumping or reaching overhead. Use good footwear. Improper or worn out shoes place added stress to hips, knees, ankles and feet, which receive 90% of all sports injuries. Choose shoes suited to the activity and replace them before they wear out. (Do not use the same rule of thumb when selecting spouses or fruit and get rid of those high-heeled sequined sneakers.)

swimming exercise Avoid high-impact aerobics. Don’t bang into anyone unless they bang into you first. Most instructors as well as students suffer injuries to their shins, calves, lower back, ankles and knees because of the repetitive jarring motion of some aerobic routines. Substitute the marching or gliding movements of low-impact aerobics for the jolting, up and down motions of the high-impact variety. Always warm up and cool down. Slowly jog for 5 minutes before your workout to gradually increase your heart rate and core temperature. Cool down after exercising with 5 minutes of slower paced movement. This prevents an abrupt drop in blood pressure and helps alleviate potential muscle stiffness. Replace fluids lost through sweating. This is particularly important in hot weather when you can easily lose more than a quart of water in an hour. Neglecting to compensate for fluid loss can cause lethargy and nausea and interfere with your performance. (It’s not nice to throw up on exercise equipment, even if it is your own.) Even if you don’t feel thirsty, it’s important to drink at regular intervals when exercising.

All in all, these suggestions should prepare you for the safe, happy exercise road ahead. I hope you have a good time, as I am still not in the mood to take my own advice. I think I am having a bad hair day and even if I’m not, I have other things to do. What are they, you ask. Well, for one thing, I have to find my Uncle Vinny and ask him something very important and for another, I have to find some nincompoop who will take my high-heeled sequined sneakers off my hands!

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"The best way to forget your troubles is to wear tight shoes."
. . . Anonymous


"The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age."
Lucille Ball in Uncommon Scold by Abby Adams

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