This is a question that we are asked nearly every day. The reality is that virtually none of us, certainly past the age of 40 “don’t” have aches, pains and carry some kind of restrictive issue. (To give you an idea of how many issues … the average would be 3, up to a dozen).
For the group of people who used to exercise vigorously, going back hard into the exercise that you used to do, is foolhardy and will only last for the short term and often exasperates the condition to a critical level. We don’t want that at all cost!
For those who didn’t exercise vigorously in the first place, you are likely to assume that any exercise will worsen your condition, plus your lack experience in exercise will offer no solutions or possibilities.
The thing to consider is that “exercise” is a very broad term and doesn’t define “what” or “how” in any way.
I have often met with prospective clients who have reported after having a “back issue” or “even surgery”, and their doctor or surgeon has told them “not to exercise”.
Problem is that this was now 9 months ago!
They are still able to go to work and get around but have avoided exercise for these 9 months or sometimes up to 3 or 4 years.
Whilst this advice may have been very valid for the 6-8 weeks after surgery, it was never meant “don’t exercise ever again!”. Plus again, “exercise” means so many different things.
Not doing exercise of any type or form for 6 months will almost certainly have incredibly negative effects on the body, that will more than out weigh the benefits of carefully chosen exercise.
So, what’s to do?….
Firstly once you can walk or move in an adequate fashion after an injury or surgery get your head around the thought that there is “more to gain from exercise than avoiding it”.
The next thing to do is to get great advice and direction.
Whether this is through a recommended Physiotherapist or recommended Personal Trainer etc (the important factor being “recommended” or that they are at least able to demonstrate evidence that generates your confidence).
This will revolve around you feeling very comfortable that they are listening to you and are comprehending your condition and are able to explain a plan that makes sense to you.
Be very wary of the Personal Trainer who will have “his or her personal definition of exercise”, that will have nothing to do with your personal abilities, age or conditions.
So please choose carefully.
You really need to be in compassionate and experienced hands at this point of time.
If you are, you will progress very easily and be very pleased with your results.
The final important factors to this question are the “What” and “How”…. Firstly “What”?
As a general rule, the more options available to what you undertake, the better.
If a treadmill is your only option it will fairly certainly aggravate knee, ankle, hip or shin issues.
At best it will ignore a large number of important areas and functions of the body that should be included in your exercise. Similarly if you only have a pair of 2 and 3 kg dumbbells and intend to combine them with a “leisurely walk the dog”, again there will be enormous restrictions on your exercise regime.
What you really need is access to a reasonable range of equipment that will give you hundreds of varied options and challenges that you can progress with over time.
A couple of my “oldest” mates prove this “too much of one thing” scenario, with having gone into marathon running as younger guys, and now in their late 50’s can barely walk without pain because of too much stress of that one single repetitive exercise movement.
Secondly the “How”? …..
This revolves around accessing good advice and motivation for appropriate exercise movements at appropriate levels for you.
And what you are capable of right now will usually be very different in 3 months from now, as your body re adapts to its new expectations. Working as many muscles through a variety of movements, along with appropriate cardiovascular challenge will always be your best friend for maximum progress and safety.
When this is done correctly the human body will rally beautifully and make you feel very proud of your achievements, which will then in turn spur you on to more quality exercise and health improvements.
So, with knowing what varieties of exercise are best for you and being directed to how they are done and to appropriate intensities, the vast majority of us are many times better off exercising around aches and pains.
A well planned, and executed variety of good quality exercise is within almost everyone’s grasp and the good news is that when done appropriately will lead to improved fitness, functional strength and flexibility as the human body “does its thing”, repairs. improves and adapts to its new environment.
It always gives me great pleasure as a Personal Trainer to see physical improvements through exercise, but even more importantly, the improvement in the state of mind in our clients, that had thought that they couldn’t or shouldn’t ever exercise again.