Research has shown that a routine fitness program can help decrease the effects of aging. However, while many medical conditions can be minimized, or their effects diminished, an exercise program for mature athletes may also create other health issues. Always consult your physician when beginning a new exercise routine. Sedentary adults who begin intense training may increase their risk or exacerbate heart or cardiovascular conditions. Starting gradually and emphasizing a daily routine of exercise and flexibility will likely yield more long-lasting results.
Older athletes are more prone to overuse injuries. Due to decreased bone density, or osteoporosis, it is important to emphasize a gradual onset of higher impact activities such as running. Additionally, tendons and ligaments become stiffer with age and a muscle, tendons and/or ligament tear or irritation can occur quickly when overdoing an exercise. Focusing a portion of your fitness program on stretching and flexibility is also critical. Chronic and overuse injuries account for approximately 70 percent of injuries in veteran athletes age 60 and older, whereas only 41 percent of younger athletes, ages 21–25, are affected by these same injuries according to an article in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery(October 2005, 407-416).
If you have arthritis, you do not need to stop exercising. A routine with less impact may be warranted to help decrease the wear-and-tear on your joints. Keeping fit, strong, and maintaining weight will help you feel better. Joints benefit from motion. Balance can also be diminished by age. Falls, related to poor balance, account for a large percentage of injuries in the elderly each year. Your exercise routine can also improve balance and may help prevent these injuries. If you choose to participate in more adventurous activities during which the risk of falls or head injury is increased, wear a helmet and other sport — or activity — specific protective gear. Tailor your exercise routine with your physician or another fitness expert to focus on how to reach your goals while staying safe and remember to enjoy yourself..
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