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The Safe Exercise Paradox

PHYSICALLY ACTIVE OLDER ADULTS CAN REDUCE THEIR RISK OF FALL AND IMPROVE THEIR INDEPENDENT LIVING ABILITY.

According to stats going back to the 2009-2010 study year, 4.27 million Canadians, aged 12 or older, suffered a severe injury. What’s more, a full two-thirds were exercise-related. With fear of injury already reported as a significant barrier to exercise by older adults and special populations, how can the public be motivated to engage in regular exercising?

With only about 15% of the population meeting recommended exercise guidelines, one would think this to be a prudent life choice. But that would be a dangerously misguided calculation, because prolonged lack of exercise is known to correlate with higher chances of chronic diseases, cardiovascular conditions, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression and even certain types of cancer.

IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE A SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE, DEVOID OF PHYSICAL FITNESS OBJECTIVES AND REGULAR WORKOUTS. BUT WE MUST, BECAUSE ACCORDING TO STATISTICS CANADA, THE ANNUAL RATES OF INJURY ARE SO HIGH AS TO BE ALMOST UNBELIEVABLE.

Physically active older adults can reduce their risk of fall and improve their independent living ability. So, it is almost paradoxical that over half of seniors are sidelined due to falls and related injuries, almost all of which occur during daily activities.

That is what we call the safe exercise paradox. Too little exercise will make you vulnerable to injury, but too much definitely puts you at risk. And it doesn’t only affect adults. In fact, the probabilities of sports-related injuries are even higher in younger age groups.

So, what can you do to ride the wave of fitness and stay on that without risking a fall? Of course, you have your own experiences and specialized knowledge to draw upon, but consider adding to them the following three tips:

  • Inactivity tends to increase with age. That means exercise intensity and frequency is relative, so treat them as such and pay attention to how your body responses to different activities.
  • Only 15% of the population meets recommended exercise levels. This does not mean everyone else is sedentary, but levels of conditioning can and do vary, so avoid rapid changes. Pushing too hard, too soon can backfire dangerously.
  • Not all exercises carry the same risk of injury. Keep a mental tally of safe exercise modifications and carefully test strength, balance and other positive indicators of progress before explicitly moving to more ambitious activities.

The safe exercise paradox is the greatest single argument for following a beneficial exercise program. Failing to adopt simple, safe exercise principles can make all the difference between the pursuit of health and fitness and the debilitating risk of injury.

 

YWCA Fitness on 25th is a coed facility providing a range of fitness experiences in a welcoming environment to achieve your individual health and fitness goals. Watch for the next WYCA wellness article on our website blog and social media channels.

By Nima Nazemi

Source: canfitpro Magazine, March-April 2019, pp. 28-29.