EXERCISE - "But it's getting cold
by Dr. Brian S. Seaman, DC, FCCSS(C), FICC
Yes it is - before we know it, not only will the kids
and grandkids be commenting about the temperature outside,
but so will we. The nice thing about Fall in the Maritimes
is that the weather is generally pretty good - well
- except there was that one September that Hurricane
Juan decided to visit us. There is nothing more enjoyable
than taking a walk through the park, or along a wooded
trail - the leaves are beautiful and there is a 'crispness'
in the air. But best of all there are no mosquitoes
or black flies!
Golf season is winding down - but let's face it - it
is a bit difficult to find those errant balls underneath
the leaves. As they say 'been there, done that'. Frustrating,
If you are a jogger or a runner, the cool weather is
certainly more comfortable but with the cooler air remember
to breathe properly - breathe in through your nose in
order to warm the air a little bit before it enters
Notice how I have been 'talking' about activities that
involve walking (assuming you do not ride a golf cart)
and running. These are good activities which provide
excellent exercise for our leg and hip muscles, and
most importantly our heart and lungs. But as the season
changes from Fall to Winter, many people prefer to change
their activity to a warmer venue. While wintering in
Florida or the Caribbean would be a nice option (sun,
beaches, warm air), it is not possible for everyone.
So - what to do?
What options do I have?
Good question - and there are a lot of things to choose
from. Obviously it goes without saying that if you have
been inactive or sedentary for quite some time, check
with your health care professional as to what you should
consider for a fitness program or exercise activity.
Depending upon your situation, an EKG to check your
heart function, and blood work, might not be a bad idea
- as they say 'better to be safe rather than sorry'!
- Mall Walking - A number of malls have walking
clubs. Check with your local mall to find out the
details. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes
or sneakers. Mall floors are notoriously hard (tile
or concrete) and can put extra strain on your lower
back, hips and knees.
Hint: If you are having problems with your feet, ankles,
knees or hips, check with your health care professional
as to whether orthotics (which are customized arch supports)
may be helpful.
- Pool Exercises or Swimming - Check with your
local pool. Many have established times for adult
swimming or just for doing lengths. If it has been
a while since you have been swimming it might be a
good idea to arrange for some stroke improvement sessions
with one of the swim instructors.
Aqua exercise is becoming very popular as this helps
to reduce the strain on your hips, knees and lower back.
There are usually a couple of options available at pools.
One would be in shallow water (and sometimes these pools
are heated) or deep water (wearing a water belt). If
you don't swim, talk to the instructor about the deep
water classes. I have some patients who could not 'swim
a stroke' but enjoy the deep water classes and feel
quite safe with the water belt. The water belts make
it easy to stay afloat and there is no impact on your
leg joints (especially if you have had hip or knee replacements).
There are a lot of arm movements with water aerobics
so if you have a shoulder problem be cautious - talk
to your health care professional or the aquatic instructor
for alternative exercises.
- Exercise Classes - There are a wide variety
of options here - elderobics, aerobic classes, step
classes, spinning classes (on stationary bikes), and
stretch and tone classes just to name a few. If you
haven't done these classes in the past, talk to the
head instructor and observe a few of the exercise
sessions. Better to start slow and move up rather
than 'jumping in' to a class that is too strenuous.
This could cause you to 'pull' a muscle or ligament.
Hint: If you sprain a ligament or strain a muscle,
use ice - not heat. Applying ice every couple of hours
for 15-20 minutes is best. Gel packs (like we use in
this clinic) are great - they are soft enough to conform
to your body or wrap around a joint. You can also use
a bag of frozen peas or corn, or crushed ice. You can
also make an ice pack using a hot water bottle with
a screw cap. Mix a 50/50 mixture of water and anti-freeze
(or windshield washer fluid). Putting the hot water
bottle in the freezer will keep it cold but also 'mushy'.
Generally buckwheat packs or Magic Bags do not get
cold enough, or stay cold long enough to be of any significant
benefit (at least based on my clinical experience over
If you have an injury that does not ease with ice and
rest over a 24-48 hour period, you should consult with
your chiropractor. Chiropractors deal with strains and
sprains every day.
- Resistance Training - This is a fancy term
for using weights, machines or even tubing exercises.
Adding physical stress to the body not only tones
our muscles but also helps to maintain our bone density.
By the way, check with your health care professional
as to what type of resistance training might be best
for your situation; whether at home or at a local
fitness facility or gym.
November is National Osteoporosis Month. Learn more
about osteoporosis by checking the articles section
of the clinic website (www.halifaxchiropractic.ca)
or by visiting the website of the Osteoporosis Society
of Canada (www.osteoporosis.ca).
So there are a lot of options -
Perhaps a few more than you may have thought of. So
start checking things out now so you are ready when
the snow flies. You can look at it in a different way
- starting now gives you a 'jump' on your New Year's
resolutions. So it's time to get active - do it for
your health and well being - not to mention that you
want to say active for many years to come. Remember
golf season is only a few months away (unless you are
opting for 'down South').
Reprinted with permission of
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The Seniors' Advocate. P.O. Box 5005, Waverly, Nova
Scotia, B2R 1S2