Suggested tips to begin preparing for exercise

submitted by the Physical Therapy Department at
Veterans Memorial Hospital

Many people in Allamakee County and the surrounding area are out exercising during the “Live Healthy Iowa” wellness program.  Preparing for exercise is very important. Anyone can become physically fit and stay that way if they follow a balanced fitness program. Here are some tips developed by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons to help get exercisers started:
• Choose a recreational or exercise activity that is fun. Don’t choose an activity just because everyone else is doing it.
• Start with a program of moderate physical activity - 30 minutes a day. Keep it interesting with a balanced program of different activities such as walking, bicycle riding, swimming or working in the garden.
• Don’t stop exercising if there is muscle soreness in the beginning. It will disappear as the exercising becomes more regular. But do stop exercising if there is any severe pain and swelling.
• Properly warming-up is crucial. Try walking or stretching exercises before beginning the main activity.
• Always cool down after exercising. Spend 10 minutes performing a low-impact activity like stretching or walking.
• Choose a comfortable time of day to exercise, not too soon after eating or when the air temperature is too warm.
• Wear shoes that are comfortable, provide good support and don’t cause blisters or calluses. The shoes should have arch supports and should elevate the heel one-half to three-quarters of an inch above the sole. When choosing a shoe, select one with uppers made of materials that “breathe” such as leather or nylon mesh.
• When exercising outside, wear lighter clothing than the temperature would ordinarily dictate. In cold weather, wear several layers of clothing. The extra layers help trap body heat, and they are easy to shed if they get too warm.
• Don’t stop the fitness program; the benefits begin to diminish in two weeks and disappear in two to eight months after a person stops exercising.
• Anyone who has an existing health problem should contact their family practice physician before beginning any vigorous physical activity. Sometimes, restrictions might have to be placed on the level of participation.
For more information, call the Veterans Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Department at 563-568-3411.