People with high blood pressure are generally advised to do aerobic exercise (such as cycling or brisk walking) and strength training with light weights. If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Be careful if you lift heavy weights or do isometric exercise—such as pushing against a wall or pressing palms together to build strength. Keep the intensity light to moderate, and rest between the brief bouts.
Try high tech athletic socks, made of a variety of new synthetic materials, such as high bulk Orlon (acrylic) and polypropylene. They are better at protecting your feet from friction, absorbing perspiration, and providing cushioning. Here’s a novel way to strengthen your forearm muscles, wrist, and grip, as well as increase flexibility. With one outstretched arm, hold a page of the newspaper by a corner and crumble it up into a small ball as fast as you can using only that one hand. Repeat a few times, several times a week, as part of your regular exercise routine. This can help in a wide variety of sports, from tennis to rock climbing, as well as in daily activities.
When exercising outdoors on a cold day, don’t overdress.
Exercise raises body temperature significantly—even a moderate workout can make you feel that it’s 30° warmer than it really is. So when you’re about to run on a 25° day, dress for about 55°. In other words, dress so that you’re slightly chilled when you first go out—once you start exercising, you’ll warm up. And layer your clothing—that allows you to unzip and/or remove clothes in order to lower body temperature during strenuous exertion.
If you can’t keep up your normal exercise routine, try to work out at least once a week to prevent “detraining.” Studies show that exercising just one day a week can help people maintain their gains. If your muscles are sore the day after strenuous exercise, the best remedy is to make those muscles work again by going back to the same exercise the next day, only less intensely.
Wear sunscreen when exercising in the sun.
Many runners and other outdoor exercisers avoid sunscreens because they’ve heard that the creams can inhibit sweating and lead to overheating. But one study found that sunscreens might actually enhance heat dissipation slightly, which would be beneficial. Skin temperature rose less when people wore sunscreen than when they didn’t. This may not be true of all products, so try different brands to see which works best for you when you exercise.
Always ice an acute injury immediately. Continue icing every 20 minutes during the next 48 hours. Applying heat can increase inflammation if done within the first day or two.
Take the following steps to relieve a stitch (a sharp pain in the side) that develops during exercise. Bend forward while tightening your abdomen. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly through pursed lips. Tighten your belt. If you aren’t wearing one, push your fingers into the painful area. Also, try stretching the abdominal muscles by raising your arms and reaching above your head.
When using a stationary bike or treadmill, set up a fan to blow directly on you as you exercise. The air blowing on your skin will cool you even faster than air conditioning. A lack of air flow is one reason why a workout on an indoor cycle can be so much more tiring than the same amount of cycling outdoors, even in the hottest weather. The evaporation of the seat provides the most important cooling mechanism for your body—and this process is helped considerably if you have dry air flowing on your skin and around your body.
Always wear a helmet when cycling.
Of the nation’s 800 annual cycling deaths in the U.S., head injuries account for about 60%. If all cyclists wore helmets, perhaps half of these deaths and injuries could be avoided. Wear your bike helmet right: tighten the straps so that the helmet can’t tip forward or backward and so that you can open your mouth only a little. Don’t wear the helmet tipped upward: it should sit level from front to back. If you can easily slip a finger between your head and the shell, the helmet is too big and you should consider buying a smaller one.
If you have osteoarthritis, the best thing you can do is exercise.
Understandably, if you have joint pain you may have formed the habit of walking more slowly and doing as little as possible. If this is the case, you need to get moving again—slowly and gently, but definitely. It’s a good idea to check with your physician first, and possibly get a referral to a physical therapist. You can also contact the Arthritis Foundation.
Use elastic bands if you want to become stronger but are intimidated by the idea of lifting dumbbells and barbells (and don’t have access to weight machines). These long, wide bands provide the resistance you need to work your muscles. They are cheap, easy to carry around, and versatile. Available in sporting goods stores, the bands often come with well-illustrated booklets.
Add jumping rope to your workout to build cardiovascular endurance.
It also helps improve coordination, speed, and agility. If you play a sport (such as tennis, basketball, or skiing) that requires bursts of speed and power, jumping rope can be particularly beneficial. It burns lots of calories: if you weigh 150 pounds and jump at 120 turns per minute, you’ll burn about 12 calories a minute. And it’s lower in impact and less hard on the knees than running, since you should jump only an inch or two off the ground.
Drink as much in the cold as in the heat. It’s easy to become dehydrated when exercising in cold weather because of the water you lose from sweating and breathing (you have to warm and moisten the cold air you inhale). As you exhale you lose water; when you “see” your breath, you’re seeing water droplets. Moreover, urine production is stimulated by the cold. Skip alcohol and caffeine; both dehydrate you. Alcohol gives you the illusion of warmth while it robs you of heat by dilating blood vessels near the skin’s surface.
To boost your metabolic rate, exercise more.
Your metabolic rate is the rate at which your body uses energy—the number of calories it burns in a given period of time, either at rest or while active. If your resting metabolic rate is high, you may find that you can eat a lot, exercise little, and still not gain weight. Conversely, if your resting metabolic rate is low, you may eat relatively little and be fairly active but still not lose weight. Most people approach to weight control wrong: they simply try to cut down on the food, fat, and calories they consume, and they usually fail. The trick is to stoke up the furnace—that is, increase the number of calories your body burns throughout the day. Obviously, exercise burns calories, but not so obviously, it also boosts your metabolic rate.
When cycling, don’t crank slowly in high gear.
This can increase the pressure on your knees and lead to overuse injuries such as biker’s knee. Shift to low gears and faster revolutions to get more exercise with less stress on your knees. The best cadence for most cyclists is 60 to 80 revolutions per minute (rpm), though racers cycle in the range of 80 to 100 rpm.
Make sure your bike fits. Handlebars, saddle, wheels, and brakes can all be adjusted to match your size and riding ability, but the frame has to fit from the start. To find the right frame size, straddle the bike and stand flatfooted: on a regular bike, there should be one to two inches of clearance between your groin and the top tube. On a mountain bike, it should be three inches or more.
If you’re over 45 (over 35 if you’re at high risk for heart disease) and are beginning a program of aerobic exercise, see your doctor first for a checkup. have been sedentary, you will need to begin slowly. If your doctor can’t give you solid advice, especially about your safe target heart rate, ask for a recommendation for a qualified trainer to help get you started.
have a cold or feel one coming on, it won’t hurt to exercise.
It’s best to start slowly and work out less intensely than usual and see how you feel. If you feel worse, you should stop. If you feel okay, work up to your normal routine. However, if you have any signs of a more serious infection (fever, swollen glands, fatigue, or vomiting), discontinue your workouts until you have fully recovered.
Do pushups: they’re among the best upper body exercises around, can be done anywhere, require no equipment, and are easily adapted to any level of strength. They work muscles in the shoulders (deltoids), back of upper arms (triceps), and chest (pectorals). The beauty of the push up is that it also exercises muscles in the abdomen, hips, and back, which are tensed to keep the body stiff while it moves up and down.