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Q.

I am a 66-year-old man. What is the best exercise for a man my age and how often should I do it?

My doctor told me that I need to exercise more to maintain good health. Also, I know to call a doctor if I have chest pain when exercising, but what other symptoms should I be concerned about?
 

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A.

Great to hear that you are taking your doctor's suggestions to heart!

Physical training should include three components:

  • Aerobic exercise

  • Resistance (weight) training

  • Stretching

I also recommend balance exercises for anyone in their 60's. Tai Chi is an excellent choice.

Aerobic exercise is what you will do most days of the week. So choose something that's appealing. No matter what you choose, start at a low pace.

Walking and jogging are easiest because you don't need to go to a gym or buy equipment. Riding a stationary bike is my favorite. I find it is easier on my joints than jogging.

Resistance training should be done two to three times per week and never two days in a row. Start with low resistance (light weights). Don't increase the weight until you can comfortably do three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

Always warm up before any exercise, even after you become more advanced. Take 5 to 10 minutes while you slowly bring your heart rate up.

I recommend stretching after exercise. This way your muscles are warm. Stretching should feel good. Be gentle and gradually increase how far you go with each stretch.

By starting slowly and working up to higher intensity gradually, you are less likely to injure your muscles, joints and tendons.

Symptoms to be concerned about during physical exertion include:

  • Chest pain

  • Severe shortness of breath

  • Feeling like you might pass out

  • A sudden, drenching sweat or cold sweat (Sweating is good, but it should come on gradually during exercise)

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately. Don't restart any exercise without first talking to your doctor.

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