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14 January 2003

Exercise to ward off aches and pains

As you get older, you lose muscle mass. Your tendons degenerate. Your cartilage erodes. Your ligaments, ouch, get tight. Your heart and lungs aren't what they used to be. But you're also not going to let that stop you!

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You've heard it all before. As you get older, you lose muscle mass. Your tendons degenerate. Your cartilage erodes. Your ligaments, ouch, get tight. Your heart and lungs aren't what they used to be. But you're also not going to let that stop you from running, or biking or doing whatever else it is you do to stay fit and have fun.

The fact is, as you get older, you'll get hurt more and it will take you longer to recover. But that doesn't mean you should stop exercising. It does mean, however, that you should come up with strategies to keep the injuries to a minimum and playing time to the maximum.

First, start a strength-training program, the article suggests. This will allow you to maintain and build muscle strength. If you add in resistance training, it will also strengthen tendons and ligaments, and boost your metabolism. A side benefit? It will help your posture, too, which will help you play your chosen sport properly. Do it twice a week.

Second, don't get stuck in a rut. Cross train. Give your body a break and learn a new sport at the same time. Switch between low-impact and high-impact workouts. And vary the intensity of your workouts.

Third, stretch. This will improve your range of motion, flexibility and your exercise technique. Other tips include: Seek out a soft surface on which to exercise, wear the right kind of shoes and always warm up.

The benefits of continuing an exercise program as you grow older are many. It will help you live longer and have a higher quality of life.

 
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