Physical Activity

Physical Activity Articles

Add stretches to your exercise routine

Stretching—the deliberate lengthening of a muscle or group of muscles to increase flexibility and range of motion—may encourage people to maintain an exercise routine. But there is no proof that stretching before working out helps prevent exercise-related injuries. Doing static stretches (in which you adopt and hold a position) when your muscles aren’t warmed up may even cause an injury. Instead, gentle movements to stretch your muscles and loosen your joints, known as dynamic stretching, is a better choice before a workout. (Locked) More »

Recovering from heart surgery

Open-heart surgery leaves people with a long chest incision and a lengthy recovery. Most of the precautions people must follow during the first four to six weeks after surgery are to allow the breastbone to heal. For example, people should not drive, nor should they push, pull, or lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. They should also learn to use their legs rather than their arms to push up to standing from a chair or bed. Getting out of the house and walking every day, gradually going a little farther each day, is encouraged. (Locked) More »

Season of receiving: Use free services to stay independent

Nonprofit groups offer many types of health-related services. Examples at the local level include low-cost dental clinics, emotional support groups, meal or grocery delivery services, transportation, in-home health evaluations, exercise classes, health education classes, home evaluations for fall prevention, companion programs, and caregiver respite services. Examples at the state or national level include services to link people to free or low-cost prescription medications, hearing aids, and gently used home medical equipment. To find such services, one can ask for referrals at a doctor’s office, a local senior center, or a local Area Agency on Aging. More »

Should you add foam rolling to your workout routine?

Foam rolling helps release tension in the muscles, relieve muscle soreness, and improve flexibility and range of motion. It’s not clear exactly how that happens, although it could be that foam rolling and sustained pressure on the muscle signals the central nervous system to reduce muscle tension, similar to the effect of a deep tissue massage. Most people will benefit from foam rolling as part of a pre or post-workout routine, or simply as a quick break from sitting. (Locked) More »

Take the plunge: Try a water workout

Swimming and water aerobics can be a good way to stay fit, especially for people who have arthritis, are overweight, or are recovering from an injury. Swimming differs from land-based exercises because during swimming, a person’s body is horizontal rather than vertical and is mostly immersed in water. Both factors mean blood pools less in the legs. The heart refills with blood a little faster, which means it may work a little harder during swimming than during other forms of exercise. Yet swimming is considered safe for people with stable heart disease and is sometimes used in cardiac rehabilitation. (Locked) More »

The wonders of winter workouts

Exercising in cold weather may have some special benefits people don’t always get in summer, such as improved endurance and protection against seasonal affective disorder. While cold-weather exercise is usually safe, people should first check with their doctor, especially if they have conditions like asthma or heart problems. Also, they should take extra care during workouts, such as wearing protective clothing, choosing safe spots to exercise, and making sure to hydrate. More »

The drug-free approach to pain management

One of the main reasons for the growing addiction to pain medicine is the ease at which it is often prescribed. Yet, depending on a person’s type and severity of pain, there may be nondrug options available that can help control, manage, and perhaps treat the underlying cause of painful flare-ups. These include physical therapy, yoga, mind-body therapies, and complementary treatments, among others. More »

Walk this way

A walking cadence of about 100 steps per minute may be a good way to gauge moderate-intensity exercise, but not necessarily for everyone. That pace might feel a little slow for fit people who exercise regularly. But it may be too fast for people who are not exercising regularly or who have illnesses or injuries. A different measure, the “rate of perceived exertion” scale, may be a better guide for determining whether someone is exercising intensely enough. More »