Regular physical activity means: feel good, look good, be fit.
Prior to physical activity, have a preparticipation examination (PPE)
Your doctor needs to know your history, your physical examination and ECG for PPE and, if requested, exercise testing and echocardiography should be performed, especially for beginners or persons returning to sports, persons with known diseases or symptoms, particular medical conditions or risk factors (e.g. (former) smoking, hypertension, overweight).
First see your sports physician, then start with regular exercise.
Start exercising moderately and consciously
Start slowly and increase intensity moderately (first increase duration, then frequency and intensity), if possible with a professional (e.g. in fitness club, running meet-up group). Three to four sessions per week are recommended, 30 – 40 minutes each.
Moderate exhaustion following sports is correct, but training should be performed without heavily grasping for air. Your physician can help you, guiding and monitoring your training load by testing and recommending the appropriate heart rate for your training, e.g. 50-80 % of your maximum heart rate.
Exercising longer and moderately is more effective then running / swimming / cycling shortly and fiercely. Physical activity and training in general should be fun.
Recover sufficiently after training
Adequate regeneration and recovery should follow an exercise session, and can be achieved by relaxing and resting, massage, sleeping, maybe sauna. An intense exercise session should be followed by a moderate low-intensity session.
Interrupt training if an illness or cold are present
When you caught a cold or are suffering from cough, sniffles or hoarseness, fever or acute illness, interrupt your training until you reach a full recovery. In case of doubt ask your physician.
Prevent and heal injuries
Before starting exercise, it is mandatory to warm up. Cool down afterwards with e.g. stretching.
Pain is always a warning symptom of the body and needs clarification.
Injuries need time to heal completely. During healing, temporarily try other sports such as swimming, aqua jogging, cycling, or cross training.
Adapt sports activity to climate, temperature and environment
“Clothes make the (sports) man”. Sport clothes should be functional, not just fashionable. Clothing should be light and permeable to air and moisture, always suited to the weather. In hot conditions, focus on reducing training, use light clothing and drink more water. In cold conditions, use warm clothes and wind breakers. In case of air pollution / high ozone levels: reduce training and prefer to exercise in the morning or evening.
Watch your nutrition and fluid intake
Sports nutrition should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in proteins and low in fat, depending on the performed sports, personal goals and individual body composition. The Mediterranean diet is still recommended. In case of doubt ask your physician or nutritionist. Loss of fluids during exercising, especially in hot conditions, must be compensated with water and drinks containing electrolytes, such as alcohol-free beer.
Consider: Beer is no sports drink, but a beer or a glass of wine once in a while is ok.
Adapt physical activity to age and medication
Physical activity in elderly people is strongly recommended, it is appropriate and beneficial. Sports in the aged should be versatile and should include endurance, strength, mobility and coordinative training. Medication needs to be adapted to activity.
Physical activity is not prohibited in osteoarthritis, but rather it has a therapeutic value. In any case talk to your physician first.
Please note, it is important to adopt drugs according to your activity. Arthrosis in the joints of legs is not a barrier to physical activity but it has a therapeutic value.
Physical activity and sports should be fun
Besides optimal training load, finding the right type of exercise is essential to have fun. Moreover, diversity in sports can be also motivating, so the advice is to explore new sports and change them once in a while. Workout with friends or in a group can also be supportive and funny.
It is also important to don’t underestimate exercising in your everyday life: climbing stairs instead of using the elevator, walking to the supermarket / post office / bakery, especially brisk walking is sport! Aim at more than 10.000 steps a day!
If your regular training routine suddenly becomes painful or too exhausting, consult your physician. Regular health checks, at least one per year, assures health, well-being and be in a good shape.
Adopted from and courtesy by the German Fed Sports Med.
Copyright H. Löllgen