Exercising safely — frequently asked questions

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Why should people exercise?

• Cardiovascular health and energy level
• Weight loss
• Mood, management of depression, social interaction
• Prevent injury and falls
• Diabetes management
• Better sleep
• Improves immune response and lowers risk of cancer
• Improves memory.

Why is it important for people to have a plan when starting an exercise program?

• Recognition of strengths and weaknesses
• Learn areas of emphasis or focus
• Know why you are doing it
• Knowledge of how to reach goals
• Follow-through and consistency.

What kinds of exercises are safe and how are they helpful?

• Yoga or Tai Chi: balance, flexibility and coordination
• Pool exercises: cardiovascular and strengthening challenge but without the weightbearing or
compressive forces on joints and spine
• Aerobic conditioning: endurance and heart or lung health
• Resistance training: weight loss, bone health and muscle strength
• Sports such as basketball, tennis, golf (without use of a cart) and swimming
• Walking: easy and no equipment
• Chair exercises for severely limited people can help make improvements.

How can a physical therapist help?

• Help when identifying areas of focus
• Experts on the body can evaluate why you have a problem and what to do about it
• Build an appropriate plan to address problem areas and reach client’s goals

What are some things to remember?

• Drink plenty of water
• Do not be afraid to mix up your routine; boredom and monotony can derail even the best programs
• Exercise technique (which includes speed, control, posture and movement) is more important
than the number of reps or how fast you can finish
• When in doubt, slow down
• Exercise with a friend which can help with consistency
• If you experience pain, stop decrease weight or resistance, make sure you have correct
technique and try again
• If you consistently are getting pain, seek help with a personal trainer or an exercise physiologist

What does an ideal exercise session look like?
• Begin with aerobic or cardiovascular activity like the treadmill, elliptical or arm bike
• Light stretching program that is specific for the individual
• Resistance training or sport
• Aerobic or cardiovascular cool-down.

How do I know if I am working out with the right weight or resistance level?

• Think of an exertion level on a scale of 0-10 like the common pain scale, where 0 is easy
and 10 is hard
• Your goal should be 2 or 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
• When starting, you should choose a weight that is slightly lower than what you think you
can handle and then go up from there.

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