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The Nitty Gritty on Exercise

Sensational Seniors

There is an amount (intensity) of exercise that is sufficient to condition the large muscles and cardiovascular system leading to physical fitness, but does not cause strain or injury.

healthy hearts

Two methods to measure intensity are: taking your pulse or heart rate, and estimating perceived exertion. Your doctor will prescribe a target heart rate for you to use during exercise. This is usually based on your exercise test. Your target heart rate may be calculated between 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate achieved on your exercise stress test. If you exercise above 85 percent, the benefit may not outweigh the risks.

Exercising on an eliptical trainer Duration of Exercise
Your doctor or rehabilitation specialists will prescribe how long you should exercise, but generally it is recommended that aerobic exercise be sustained for 20 to 60 minutes. you may begin exercising in five to ten minute intervals and then gradually increase your time over several weeks to a total of 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per session.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Exercise should begin with five to ten minutes of gradual warm-up activity and end with another five to ten minues of gradual cool down activity. Stretching exercises, used as a warm-up stage, are recommended to increase the flow of blood to your muscles and to prevent injuries to your muscles and joints. Stretching also improves flexibility.

You can also warm-up and cool down by slow walking or biking. The idea is to gradually raise your heart rate to your prescribed level for your exercise period, and then slowly return it to normal.

  • Important: Follow your doctor or rehabilitation specialists instructions on watching your heart rate!

Stretching Hints

Deep Stretches Stretching is easy to learn. But there is a right way and a wrong way to stretch.

The right way is a relaxed, sustained stretch with your attention focused on the muscles being stretched. The stretches should be slow and easy, not unlike a long yawn and stretch done upon awakening.

The wrong way (unfortunately practiced by many people) is to bounce up and down, or to stretch to the point of pain. These methods can actually do more harm than good.

When to Stop Exercising

If you are in the process of exercising and begin to experience any of the following symptoms, stop your workout immediately if you:

  • Experience chest discomfort
  • Become unusually short of breath
  • Have a heart rate that is very rapid or fluttery
  • Have a heart beat that is irregular or slow
  • Feel weak and/or faint
  • Feel dizzy
  • Experience leg pains or cramps

Sit down or lie down, and if these symptoms are not relieved in a few minutes, seek help immediately. Always be sure to report any of these occurences to your doctor so that appropriate adjustments to your exercise schedule can be made.

When to Avoid Starting Exercise

Man Taking Walk If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms at rest, do not begin to exercise. Some patients have been known to use an exercise session as a way of determining whether the symptoms were significant or not. This is very inappropriate.


Walking is not only beneficial to your heart, it is free and relaxing. If the weather is inclement or you can't or don't want to walk around your neighborhood, indoor shopping malls are great places, but refrain from window shopping until you've completed your walk! You have to keep up a brisk pace to derive optimal benefits from the exercise. You may want to consider buying a new pair of properly fitted walking shoes to provide good traction. This investment will help cushion your feet and avoid the problems of soreness and blistering. Remember to exercise only when relaxed, rested and feeling well. Don't exercise if you have a fever, cold or the flu. Listen to your body. Also, remember the "talk test". If you can't talk briefly during exercise then you are working too hard. Also, after you walk, sit down and rest 20 to 30 minutes.

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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.