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Senior Citizen's Guide to Washington County (PA)

Breaking 7 Barriers to Senior Fitness


By: True North Custom

Regular exercise can reduce the risk for developing a number of chronic conditions. It can also help seniors live longer independently and reduce their risk for falls and broken bones.

Thomas Tambouratzis, MD, board-certified Internal Medicine Provider with Washington Health System, shares his expertise for helping
keep seniors on the move.

1ST BARRIER: GETTING STARTED
Dr. Tambouratzis: Those new to exercise should start slow and simple with a walking program. I advise they walk on soft surfaces to protect their joints and reduce their risk for foot injuries.

2ND BARRIER: DOING TOO MUCH TOO SOON
Dr. Tambouratzis: Many start out too strong, perhaps walking five miles a day, when, in reality, a half mile or so would be ideal. I recommend taking two loops around a high school track, a distance equaling half a mile.

3RD BARRIER: IGNORING WEATHER
Dr. Tambouratzis: During summer, walk first thing in the morning, if possible, to avoid higher temperatures from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Likewise, indoor activity on colder days is highly encouraged to avoid possible hypothermia.

4TH BARRIER: LIFTING TOO MUCH
Dr. Tambouratzis: Heavy weights increase injury risk and are comparable to light weights when it comes to strength training, research shows. My suggestion: Use half-pound to one-pound weights. When using weight machines, find ones suitable to your body, possibly with back support.

5TH BARRIER: FINDING WHAT WORKS
Dr. Tambouratzis: To relieve boredom, find a group exercise class such as SilverSneakers. Dislike the gym? Stay
home and lift free weights, use a resistance band and practice basic yoga poses for increased muscle tone and flexibility. Workout DVDs are another great option.

6TH BARRIER: EATING TOO LITTLE
Dr. Tambouratzis: Eat three times a day, starting off with a nutritious breakfast, such as scrambled eggs with a slice of whole-grain toast, a veggie-filled omelet or oatmeal with fruit. For those with digestive issues, try eating Greek yogurt. It provides protein and probiotics, which can help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria.

7TH BARRIER: IGNORING REST DAYS
Dr. Tambouratzis: Injury prevention is really important for seniors because they take longer to recover. I encourage my patients to listen to their bodies and take rest days when feeling sore or experiencing abnormal aches and pains.

“My most important message is for those who choose not to exercise,” Dr. Tambouratzis says. “They are often the ones who could benefit most from incorporating regular physical activity into their routines.”

»»TALK WITH YOUR PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER BEFORE STARTING A NEW EXERCISE ROUTINE.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A NEW PROVIDER, CALL THE WHS INTERNAL MEDICINE PRACTICE
AT (724) 229-7570.

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