Thursday, May 31, 2007

Boomers Must Take Extra Steps To Prevent Sports And Exercise-related Injuries

While exercise and playing sports can be lots of fun, aging puts some limits on the intensity and duration of that activity. Growing older also makes us more prone to injuries ourselves during physical activity. "Baby boomers" tend to be at risk, since they may just be discovering their bodies are not as young as they used to be. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends that "boomers" take special cautions to help prevent injuries as they exercise to keep their bodies in top condition.

According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, in 2005:

-- More than 128,000 people between the ages of 45 and 64 were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical settings for injuries related to exercise and exercise equipment.

"When you are 50, your body is more prone to injury than it was when you were 20," says Emmett McEleney, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS Leadership Fellows Program member. "Joints, tissues and muscles may not be as flexible as they used to be. So as you get older, you need to take extra steps to protect yourself from injuries when you exercise."

The Academy offers the following strategies to help baby boomers prevent exercise-related injuries:

-- Check with your doctor first. Before beginning an exercise program, a physician can make sure your heart is in good condition, and make recommendations based on your current fitness level. This is especially important if you have had a previous injury.
-- Always warm up and stretch before exercising. Cold muscles are more likely to get injured, so warm up with some light exercise for at least 3 to 5 minutes.
-- Don't be a "weekend warrior." Moderate exercise every day is healthier and less likely to result in injury than heavy activity only on weekends.
-- Take lessons. An instructor can help ensure that you are using the proper form, which can prevent overuse injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures.
-- Develop a balanced fitness program. Incorporate cardio, strength training, and flexibility training to get a total body workout and prevent overuse injuries. Also, introduce new exercises gradually, so you don't take on too much at once.
-- Take calcium and vitamin D daily.
-- Listen to your body. As you age, you may not be able to do some of the activities that you did years ago. Pay attention to your body's needs and abilities and modify your workout accordingly.



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