Know when to ‘tone down’ workers, experts suggest

Couch potatoes aren’t the only ones who should think hard about how much physical activity they get.

Couch potatoes aren’t the only ones who should think hard about how much physical activity they get.

Longtime exercise fanatics need to analyze how they work their bodies, too.

As years pass and bodies change, workouts should as well. Sometimes, a less stressful form of exercise is in order. Other times, the body needs to be challenged in different ways.

“Listen to your body. Always, that’s number one,” advised Tim Valachovic, who owns Glenville Health and Fitness with his wife, Cheryl. “If there is an injury, you’re feeling a pain, or your body just says, ‘I can’t do this three times a week,’ OK, fine.”

Often, people don’t realize they need to tone down a workout until an injury occurs, Cheryl Valachovic noted. She recommended keeping tabs on how you feel after exercising.

“If you go home and you have a little muscle soreness, that’s OK, you’ve worked the muscle. But if you have any pain in your joints then maybe you’re going too hard,” she said.

Switching to a lower impact workout doesn’t necessarily mean you’re skimping.

For someone who can’t run anymore because of knee problems, high cardio alternatives could include cycling or working out on something like the self-propelled Jacobs Ladder machine, suggested Gina Sabatini, owner of Precise Fitness and Training in Burnt Hills. The machine has ladder-type rungs on a non-motorized treadmill. It’s self-paced, so the faster you climb the slanted “ladder,” the faster the machine goes.

Doing the same workout all the time might strengthen some muscles while ignoring others. If that goes on for years, it can cause problems.

“Overuse injuries happen because they’re not keeping everything strong,” Cheryl Valachovic said.

People also need to come to terms with the fact that they aren’t 20 anymore and set goals accordingly, she advised.

“You have to change gears and you have to look at, ‘OK, what do I want to be able to do? What do I want to accomplish?’ And then you work from there,” she said.

Sabatini suggested getting a full evaluation from a personal trainer to gauge your fitness level and to help you set goals. Seeking advice from a doctor or physical therapist is also recommended.

One goal of every workout regimen should be to help ensure everyday tasks can be done with ease.

“Is carrying a bag of groceries too heavy for me? Then maybe I’m not doing enough,” Tim Valachovic illustrated. “The grandkids — running after them — am I out of breath? Am I going up the stairs and going, ‘Holy crap, this is hard.’ [If so,] obviously I’m not doing enough.”

Other benefits of a well planned, consistent workout include lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure and a healthier body weight.

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