Don't Overdo It
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10 Popular Activities Physical Therapists Wish You'd Stop

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Don't Overdo It
IPGGutenbergUKLtd/istockphoto

Don't Overdo It

As the body ages, the mechanics change. The problem is that many older adults don't take the time to incorporate stretching and training into their workouts. Instead, they jump into a workout program and end up with an injury, which leads to even more sedentary time. Experts say it's important to learn how to stretch and warm up, properly complete the movement being performed, and learn body limitations. Here are 10 things experts find cause the most problems for adults ages 30 years and up.

Related: 14 Exercises People Often Do Wrong — and How to Do Them Right

Running
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Running

Running is tough on the body, and as adults age, they become even more prone to injury. If you are running for miles and not doing any other type of workouts, be prepared to eventually have an injury. "Lots of people in their 30s feel that their physical health has declined or has been neglected, so they jump right into running because it's something that doesn't need equipment and you can basically do it anywhere," says physical therapist Mital Patel. "People forget that running shouldn't just involve running. They should incorporate a stretching regimen along with running. Otherwise, they are more likely to end up with an injury." If you decide to start running, start slow and add not only stretching, but also weight training and core-strengthening activities to be safe and prevent injury.

Related: The Biggest Fitness Mistakes You Can Make After 50

Golf
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Golf

According to the Mayo Clinic, rib fractures are one of the most common bone breaks in older adults, and 40 percent of those fractures can occur from repetitive motions such as a golf swing. A rib fracture can also lead to complications like pneumonia, especially in older adults. Not stretching prior to activity is one way to increase your risk of injury, says occupational therapist Nicole Rigg. On the golf course, be sure you are warming up and stretching before taking a swing to help prevent injury.

Related: 24 Great Golf Courses to Play for Under $50

Tennis
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Tennis

While you don't necessarily have to play tennis to suffer from tennis elbow, there's a reason the painful condition is named after the sport. Playing tennis regularly can cause strain on the outer elbow, which can "aggravate and expedite arthritic changes, increase tension on muscles causing pain when used, swelling, and possible tendonitis," says occupational therapist Nicole Rigg. As with golf, warming up and stretching can help prevent injury. Rigg also recommends taking longer breaks to give yourself time to recover.

Bowling
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Bowling

Like golf and tennis, bowling can cause similar issues. And, like tennis and golf, it's a good idea to stretch and warm up before playing. With all three of these sports, incorporating other activities is a good idea to avoid overuse and to make sure all muscles are worked and not just a few isolated muscles, joints, and tendons. "Its huge component that any age group needs to incorporate is a consistent stretching regimen," says physical therapist Mital Patel. "Stretching all parts of your body is an important preventative measure to take, no matter what activity you are doing. It also allows your muscles to work at their maximal lengthened position for the highest potential to prevent injury."

Gardening
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Gardening

Occupational therapist Nicole Rigg sees issues arise among older people from gardening. The act of bending and lifting, carrying, and pushing are simply movements that are new or uncommon for many people, and then when they start gardening they suffer from pain afterward. Stretching and warming up prior to gardening is a key step. It's also important to know limits and ask for help when needed. Rigg recommends that newbie gardeners "take more rest breaks, stretch, and learn proper body mechanics for lifting, pulling, pushing, and carrying."

Related: 22 Tips to Keep Gardening Dirt Cheap

Soccer
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Soccer

Adults ages 30 and up may find intramural sports like soccer a great way to get a workout in while also being social. But, as with high-intensity workout classes, soccer is full of many abrupt movements that your body might not be prepared to do. This is more evident as we age, explains occupational therapist Nicole Rigg. She sees injury from extracurricular sports like this often, and recommends any older soccer player make sure they are ready for a sport like this before jumping in and going full force.

Related: The Best and Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle

Sitting for Extended Periods
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Sitting for Extended Periods

Sometimes you just can't avoid sitting for long periods of time, especially if it's a part of your job. Unfortunately, it's still a health risk. "Prolonged sitting has been shown to cause many issues, which include back pain, neck pain, and other hip/knee pain. It is inevitable to be sitting when it is required by your job, but there are many adjustments you can make to prevent long-term conditions," says physical therapist Mital Patel, PT, DPT, CLT. "For instance, try to change positions every 30 minutes or so. If that means you just stand up for a moment and sit back down, go for a water or bathroom break, or just take a short walk around the office, they can all can allow your body to readjust and prevent injury."

Related: 20 Essential Exercises for Older Adults

Using Electronic Devices
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Using Electronic Devices

Similar to sitting for prolonged periods of time, looking down at an electronic device in your lap for long periods of time can lead to injury. "Hand, wrist, and neck injuries are also up with the use of cell phones, tablets, video games and other electronic devices," says physical therapist Mital Patel. "The amount of time texting, watching a screen that's in your lap, or even just typing on a keyboard, can lead to overuse injuries. Taking breaks can help prevent injuries."

Related: 20 Fitness Accessories Under $25 to Supercharge Your Workout

Heavy Weight Training
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Heavy Weight Training

Diving right into a heavy weight routine is a fast way to injure yourself. Progression is key to avoid injuries. Occupational therapist Nicole Rigg, explains that heavy weight training and CrossFit-type workouts cause multiple problems. "These problems are often caused by overuse or muscles that are pushed to a limit too fast or abruptly," she says. "Bone density and muscle flexibility may decrease as we age, so being educated and knowing your own body limits is a must for any workout program."

Related: 25 Fall Fitness Tips to Burn Calories Before the Holidays

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
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High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Orangetheory and similar programs are cardio heavy and tend to be HIIT type workouts that combine fast bursts of high-intensity work followed by small breaks. Like CrossFit, this type of workout is a great way to get active, but faster speeds on treadmills, and quick transitions without slowly progressing and advancing, opens up an older or inexperienced exerciser to injury. "This new trend with exercise classes and programs that incorporate high-intensity and high-calorie burning programs are also leading to injuries," says physical therapist Mital Patel. "Again, due to the lack of prior exercises and the mindset of 'jumping in' without appropriate guidance can cause severe injuries. While incorporating these exercise classes into a fitness journey is great, people still need to gradually progress themselves with the help of their coaches to prevent injuries and work within their current potential."

Related: 12 Health Goals for Seniors in 2019