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Safe Exercise Tips for People Over Age 50

Baby Boomer Exercise Safety Tips


Updated June 03, 2014

Mature couple walking dressed for winter - Getty
© Jim Cummins / The Image Bank / Getty

Exercise is essential for people over age 50, but the risk of injury goes up. You need to take precautions you ignored at a younger age. "When you are 50, you may injure your body more easily than when you were 20," says James Keeney, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Leadership Fellows Program in a press release. "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."

Tips to Prevent Exercise Injury Over Age 50

The AAOS offers these tips to exercise safely as you age:
  • Talk to Your Doc: Your doctor can tell you whether your heart is in good condition and what level of exercise would be best. If you have a previous injury or chronic condition, this consultation is even more important. Exercise is often the right prescription for maintaining health, but your doctor can steer you to the right kind of exercise for your specific fitness level.
    Why You Should Get a Medical Check-up
  • Warm Up: Don't leap into strenuous exercise with cold muscles. Warm up for three to five minutes with light exercise such as walking. The AAOS says that cold muscles are more likely to get injured.
    Why You Need a Warm-Up
  • Don't be a Weekend Warrior: Moderate exercise every day is the recommendation for reducing health risks. It can also help reduce injuries seen in those who play hard on the weekend only.
    Moderate Exercise 5 Days a Week
  • Use a Trainer or Take Lessons: Using the right form, frequency, and intensity for exercise can improve your results and help prevent overuse injuries. Using a trainer or instructor can ensure you are doing it right.
    Why Use a Trainer?
  • Cardio, Strength, and Flexibility: Balancing your exercise program means that you do each of these three types of exercise. Cardio exercise includes running, walking, biking, swimming, rowing, etc. Choose the one you enjoy the most for moderate intensity cardio three or more times a week. Strength training includes working out with weights, exercise bands, and other devices to build and maintain muscle. Flexibility includes stretching and yoga.
    Exercise Recommendations: Cardio, Strength, and Flexibility
  • Supplements: The AAOS recommends taking calcium and vitamin D supplements daily.
    Calcium and Vitamin D for Osteoporosis
  • Listen to Your Body: You may not be able to do everything you used to do, or as intensely. Don't ignore pain or fatigue. Pay attention and modify your workout so you are getting the exercise you need without risking injury.
    Pay Attention to Muscle Pain and Soreness
  • Rest: Regular days off from exercise gives your body the chance to build and repair muscle and bone. A rest day after an intense workout day can help restore you.
The AAOS says that baby boomers who exercise regularly are less likely to experience depression, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disturbances.
Walking - the Miracle Cure


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Press release Aug. 8, 2008.

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