It’s a pretty common New Year’s resolution: join a gym, or if you already have a membership, spend more time there.
Working out at a gym offers many health advantages, including weight control, disease management and depression-busting. Instructors teach classes and are often on the scene to be sure you are using equipment properly. Personal trainers help ensure you’re sticking to your exercise routine. And you can’t use bad weather as an excuse to skip a gym workout! Today, many Medicare Advantage plans offer a free gym membership; they know this helps seniors remain independent and healthy, and in the process, saves on healthcare costs.
It’s important to work out safely at the gym. Use the proper technique to avoid strains and other injuries. Warm up before your workout. Learn how to use treadmills, exercise bikes and weight machines safely. Get the OK from your doctor if you’re starting a new fitness class or other regimen. And if you’re an older adult, choose a senior-friendly program with trainers and instructors who know the fitness needs of seniors.
Medical specialists recently offered three more gym safety tips to add to your resolutions:
- Avoid skin infections. Experts from the American Academy of Dermatology warn that germs that cause skin infections can thrive on gym equipment and in the locker room. You can lower the risk by wiping down equipment with disinfectant wipes or sprays before using it, always wearing shoes, keeping any cuts clean and covered, washing your hands immediately after working out, and laundering your gym clothes after each workout. Wipe off equipment after you use it, too—that’s just good gym etiquette!
- Don’t be tempted by the tanning bed. Despite their emphasis on health, many gyms today offer on-site tanning. Many people associate having a golden tan with good health—but in fact, reports a December 2019 article published in JAMA, using a tanning bed damages our skin and raises the risk of skin cancer. “Gyms appear to be the new tanning salons,” says study author Sherry Pagoto of the University of Connecticut. “I just have to question the motivation of any gym that uses a carcinogen to lure members. Is their priority really my health?”
- Be careful with resistance exercise bands. The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that people have suffered serious eye injuries when exercising with the rubber resistance bands and tubing that are often part of senior exercise programs. These bands can recoil with great force during a workout, and contact with the eye can result in corneal damage and even retinal detachment. Use caution while using these items, and see a doctor right away if you suffer an eye injury in this manner. Prompt treatment can help avoid permanent vision loss.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise reporting on studies from the American Academy of Dermatology, the University of Connecticut and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.