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Patient Question

Everything I hear and read about staying healthy and losing weight mentions exercise. I haven't exercised for many years. How can I get started with an exercise program and avoid injuring myself?

Catherine Tuppo, PT


Physical and Occupational Therapy Services
Stony Brook University Medical Center
Expert Answer

Engaging in regular physical activity is an important step toward improving your cardiac fitness, strength, flexibility, endurance and overall health. For exercise to be effective it must be a regular, routine activity. Studies suggest 30-40 minutes of moderate activity 4-5 times per week. Avoiding strain and injury will allow you to reach this goal and to stay physically active throughout your life.

Frequently individuals are motivated and excited when beginning an exercise program. Being overly ambitious is one of the biggest downfalls to success. Overestimating your body's ability may cause you to engage in an activity that exceeds your physical capabilities, resulting in injuries such as muscle strain, ligament sprain and bone fracture.

Pushing yourself to a point of fatigue or over exertion is also a concern. Injuries are more likely to occur when your body is tired. Understand your own body, and accept its potential and limits. Here are some points to consider:

  • Consult your doctor before getting started.
  • Start gradually, progress slowly. Injuries occur when too much activity is done too soon. If your goal is 30 minutes of activity, begin with 10 or 15 minutes at first. Repeat this routine for several sessions before increasing the time and intensity.
  • Warm up and stretch slowly before engaging in the activity (no bouncing when stretching, hold stretch for 20-30 seconds).
  • Cool down at the end of the exercise routine by stretching again.
  • Monitor your pulse before, during, and after the exercise.
  • Wear comfortable shoes that ensure good foot support when walking, jogging or cycling.
  • Vary your routine from day to day. Your muscles need to rest on alternate days.

You can't erase years of inactivity in one weekend. Choose something that you enjoy doing. Stay with it, and gradually over time your body will transform.

The Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy at Stony Brook University Hospital offers inpatient and outpatient physical and occupational therapy, hand therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, lymphedema therapy, balance rehabilitation and aquatic therapy, for adults and children.

For Additional Information Contact (631) 444-4000

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