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by Jennifer Cox Fitness W e all know that physical activity is a crucial element of having a healthy lifestyle, especially as we get older. However, exercise can be counter-productive if done incorrectly – you could overdo it and take on something your body isn’t quite prepared for and, in the end, you could actually set yourself back rather than move forward in your efforts. The first step when taking on any type of exercise regimen, whether it’s a new sport, new workout, etc., is checking with your doctor . Make sure that you inform your GP of any activities you plan on doing that you haven’t done before. Those who have heart or blood pressure issues may need to avoid certain exercises and so, too, will those who have physical limitations, such as a bad back, neck or hip. Ensure that your exercise routine is bal- anced – you don’t want to do too much to one particular part of your body. For example, a strenuous lower-body routine with very little onus on your upper body can cause you to be sorer and more worn out than you’d like. If you need to, seek out the advice of a certified personal trainer to create a plan that integrates your entire body, rather than focusing on one specific area. Always warm up and cool down . Never start working out without stretching before- hand, and always allow yourself a bit of time afterwards to do the same. It’s a good way to avoid pulled muscles and cramping. Be regular about your physical activities . An intense one-off tennis match can cause more harm than good, especially when you’re a senior. A good rule of thumb is: 20-30 minutes of exercise every other day to start. Once this becomes the norm in your routine, you can increase it incrementally. Work on your balance . Balance is the key to remaining in good shape as you get older. When you have good balance, you can help stave away falls during exercising. According to a study published by the BritishMedical Journal, French researchers analyzed the results of 17 trials that tested the effect of fall-prevention exercises on seniors’ risk of falls and fall-related injuries. Overall, exercise programs reduced falls that caused injuries by 37%, falls leading to serious injuries by 43%, and broken bones by 61%. Hydrate and choose the right foods. What you eat and drink is just as important as your workout, says the website Acive.com. Not only will carbohydrates give you energy for your workout, they will replenish those glycogen stores for your recovery and for the next workout. Protein after your work- out is just as important, as this will help repair those muscles which you just broke down. All of this can help you avoid pain and injury. Ways to avoid injury when exercising CSANews | SPRING 2020 | 35