Age-Appropriate Exercise“Regardless of whatever age you are, exercise is probably the best medicine we have.”

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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Seán O’Rourke’s got your back… and your knee, and your cruciate ligament. Well, he’s done the next best thing and brought a couple of health experts into studio for advice on getting through the January exercise kick without doing too much damage. Chartered physiotherapist Jenny Branigan of Total Physio and Professor Niall Moyna of the School of Health and Human Performance at DCU shared some of their top fitness dos and don’ts today.

Jenny Branigan says the key to it is to be honest with yourself about where you are right now: age-wise, fitness-wise and strength-wise. There’s no point lashing into a fitness plan that doesn’t take account of where you’re starting from and where you want to go. She told Seán about some of the mistakes many people make this time of year:

“They don’t think about where they’re coming from, they don’t really think about where they want to get to. They do too much, they do it too soon, they don’t plan the recovery sessions that they need.”

The rushed approach can lead to injury. Some of the commonest ones Jenny says, are knee pain, lower back problems and Achilles tendonopathy. She says these often turn up in people who may have been fit in the past, but who forget that they need to take it slowly at first if they have been lving a sedentary lifestyle for a number of years.

Niall Moyna of the School of Health and Human Performance at DCU agrees whole-heartedly with Jenny on the importance of setting achievable goals. He is also up-beat about everyone’s potential to improve their fitness, no matter what age they are:

“It’s never too late to reset.”

Prof. Moyna says you should start slowly and not worry about setting small goals at first -in fact this is what we should be doing, he says:

“5 minutes from your front door and 5 minutes back: there’s your 10 minute start, rather than setting a target of 30 or 60 minutes a day that are just not going to be sustainable. Pick something that you know you can sustain for the long term.”

Niall Moyna is a fan of fitness trackers. He says they’re not guaranteed to work for everyone in the long term, but if they get people motivated about moving at all, they are a good thing. Both experts were keen to emphasise that exercise doesn’t have to be in the gym; as long as it’s safe, age-appropriate movement it will be beneficial. As Dr Moyna says:

“Regardless of whatever age you are, exercise is probably the best medicine we have.”

Listen back to the full interview with Chartered physiotherapist Jenny Branigan of Total Physio and Professor Niall Moyna of the School of Health and Human Performance at DCU on Today with Seán O’Rourke here.

Ruth Kennedy

© The Listener 2020

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