Body Maintenance Manual

It’s never too late to start exer­cising. And it’s never too soon to get going. As we age, stay­ing fit and act­ive isn’t really about flaunt­ing our gor­geous bod­ies or run­ning mara­thons. It’s about keep­ing body and brain in good con­di­tion: alert, strong, steady and mobile. The bene­fits can be dra­matic and life-​enhancing

Sabrina lying on the grass playing with two of her grand-children, photo by Andreas

In this sec­tion of the web­site you’ll find lots of advice, inform­a­tion and spe­cific exer­cises to set you on the right track to becom­ing fit­ter. But first, take a moment to read this bit about about stay­ing safe when you exer­icse.

warning exclamation markStay safe

There are a few safety guidelines that all exer­cisers should fol­low, so you don’t end up doing an injury or worse. Understand, above all, that exer­cise is never a quick fix: Ageing bod­ies take a little time to get the mes­sage and start strength­en­ing up. Older brains take a while to get used to new tricks. Stay focused on the medium term to judge your pro­gress, rather than expect­ing mir­acles inside a week.

Elsewhere in the Body Maintenance Manual

How exer­cise works: under­stand your body and how to get best res­ultsThe Body MOT: exer­cises for abso­lute begin­nersGuidelines for stretch­ingWorking with weights and other strength­en­ing equip­mentWay to walk: tips on good walk­ing habit­sUp­stairs, down­stairs: how to use your stairs to get fit

Upstairs, down­stairs: why stair-​climbing is bril­liant exer­cise, and how to build steps into your life

Exercise search: click through to the list of exer­cises or use the search box in the top right corner of the screen to find an exer­cise

Safety guidelines

Check first
If you have a health con­di­tion or dis­ab­il­ity, check with your doc­tor before you start to exer­cise. Questions you may want to raise:

  • Can exer­cise help with my condition(s)?
  • Will exer­cise make any­thing worse for me?
  • Are there par­tic­u­lar types of exer­cise that are best for me?
  • Are there spe­cific types of exer­cise I should avoid or be wary of?

You could also check the web­sites of any major sup­port organ­isa­tions for your dis­ab­il­ity /​condition(s) for their exer­cise /​activ­ity advice.
Work out only when well
It is always a bad idea to exer­cise when you are unwell. If you live with major med­ical con­di­tions or dis­ab­il­it­ies, the line between well and unwell can be fuzzy. A good rule of thumb is to lay off the exer­cise on days when you are feel­ing worse than whatever is nor­mal for you. If you have cough, cold, extreme breath­less­ness, dizzi­ness, arth­ritic flare-​up, extreme tired­ness, feel shivery or any other feel­ing of unwell­ness, do not exer­cise. Wait a day or a week until you feel nor­mal again.

Come back gently
When re-​starting exer­cise after ill­ness, always start again gently – doing less than before you got ill. The body needs a week or two to get back into its stride.

Listen to pain
If a spe­cific exer­cise or move­ment causes a pain­ful reac­tion, stop doing it. Read the next sec­tion, which includes more inform­a­tion on reac­tions to exer­cise. This may help you decide whether to try that move­ment again. If in doubt, steer clear of it. Never just push on through pain: it will not do you good and may cause injury or worse.

Understand the effects of food and drink
♦ Try to avoid doing exer­cises without hav­ing eaten any­thing that day. And if you are doing ener­getic exer­cise, such as a long walk or swim, eat a decent snack about 30 minutes before­hand

♦ Avoid exer­cising straight after a big meal

♦ Keep hydrated: aim to drink water reg­u­larly dur­ing the day and espe­cially dur­ing your exer­cise ses­sion

♦ Tea and cof­fee are poor sub­sti­tutes for water when you need to rehyd­rate

Dress for the occa­sion
Wear com­fort­able warm cloth­ing and proper foot­wear. You don’t need train­ers if you’re doing exer­cises at home. But neither should you be wear­ing old slip­pers, high heels or other dodgy foot­wear. Flat, sup­port­ive, non-​slip shoes are best.

Know how much is the right amount
Check the instruc­tions on each exer­cise to see how often you can safely prac­tise it. Any exer­cise which just involves you and your body is OK to do every day. But exer­cises that use weights, stretchy bands or other weight-​training equip­ment should only be repeated after a full day’s rest – which means every other day at most

Allergic to exer­cise?
♦ If you have an emer­gency inhaler or angina spray, always have it with you dur­ing exer­cise. Exercise can trig­ger asthma attack or angina in some people on some occa­sions. Be pre­pared

♦ Some of the exer­cises in the Body Maintenance Manual use a stretchy exer­cise band. If you are aller­gic to latex or sim­ilar mater­i­als, you will need a hypo-​allergenic ver­sion

If you sud­denly get very breath­less, feel faint or develop chest pain while exer­cising, you should imme­di­ately stop and get help. It could be an emer­gency.

See also:
Guidelines for stretch­ing

Working with weights and other strength­en­ing equip­ment

Increase Text Size Increase Text Size

Comments are closed.