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Exercise Safety

Regular exercise is beneficial for everyone, in both physical and psychological aspects. For the elderly, it is important to ensure safety during exercise so as to avoid accidents.

Before exercise:

  1. Do not exercise on an empty stomach or just after a big meal. It is important to have breakfast before exercise to prevent exhaustion. Do not drink too much beverage before swimming to avoid choking due to vomiting
  2. Wear comfortable clothing, socks and shoes. Choose shoes of correct size with soft upper, non-slip and shock-absorbing sole.
  3. Bring adequate water so as to replenish the loss of water and fluid from your body.
  4. Avoid exercising in extreme weather.
  5. Perform adequate warm-up, e.g. 5 to 10 minutes, and at least 10-minute stretching before exercise so as to prevent injuries.
  6. Do not forget to perform adequate cool-down, e.g. 5 to 10 minutes, and at least 10-minute stretching after exercise to allow your body to return to resting state gradually.

Exercise Precautions

  1. Choose appropriate type and intensity of exercise according to your ability. Do not overexert yourself.
  2. Stop exercising if you have any acute medical symptoms (such as fever, or pain).
  3. If you have any chronic medical conditions (such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, ischemic heart disease and arthritis), it is better to seek advice from your doctor or physiotherapist before starting a new exercise program or increasing the intensity.
  4. If you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, vomiting, nausea or severe pain during exercise, stop exercising immediately and seek medical advice as soon as possible.
  5. For prolonged exercise like hiking, drink water from time to time to replenish the loss of body fluid due to sweating. Drink frequently even if you are not thirsty.
  6. Maintain normal breathing and don’t hold your breath during exercise.
  7. Take appropriate breaks during exercise. Do not over-exert yourself.
  8. Start from low intensity and progress slowly if health condition allows.
  9. Exercise with friends. Having a companion can often add enjoyment and provides opportunity for mutual encouragement and support.

Proper management of injuries

  1. In the event of an injury, e.g. sprain injury stop exercising right away to prevent any further damage to the affected body parts.
  2. Keep calm and rest in a safe place.
  3. If you experience muscle cramps, you can stretch the muscle and massage it gently, but do not bounce or stretch it forcefully.
  4. The proper treatment for sprains is RICE
    R (rest the injured part)
    I (ice -pack application)
    C (compression by applying an elastic bandage)
    E (elevate the injured parts to reduce swelling)
    Do not massage vigorously as it may cause further injury.
  5. Extreme pain, rapid swelling, severe bruising, decreased range of movement or deformity may be signs of fracture or other serious conditions; one should seek help from a doctor immediately.

Apart from the general principles of exercise safety, elderly should select suitable combination of physical activities. (Please refer to the “Tips about Planning Physical Activities Program for the Elderly” fact sheet under the website of Elderly Health Service of Department of Health for details).