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Exercises Basics

  • Build up to all exercises and activities gradually, especially if you have been inactive for a long time.
  • Once you have built up to a regular schedule, include endurance, strength, balance, and stretching exercises.
  • If you have to stop exercising for more than a few weeks, start at half the effort when you resume, then build back up to where you were.
  • When bending forward, always keep back and shoulders straight to ensure that you are bending from the hips, not the waist.
  • If you have had a hip replacement, check with your surgeon before doing lower body exercises.


  • To build stamina, you can do specific exercises, like walking or jogging, or any activity that raises your heart rate and breathing for extended periods of time.
  • Do at least 30 minutes of endurance activities on most or all days of the week.
  • If you prefer, divide your 30 minutes into shorter sessions of no less than 10 minutes each.
  • The more vigorous the exercise, the greater the benefits.
  • Warm up and cool down with a light activity, such as easy walking.
  • Activities shouldn’t make you breathe so hard you can’t talk. They shouldn’t cause dizziness or chest pain.
  • When you are ready to progress, first increase the amount of time, then the difficulty, of your activity.
  • Stretch after endurance exercises.


  • Do strength exercises for all your major muscle groups at least twice a week, but not for the same muscle group on any 2 days in a row.
  • Gradually increasing the amount of weight you use is the most important part of strength exercise.
  • Start with a low amount of weight (or no weight) and increase it gradually.
  • When you are ready to progress, first increase the number of times you do the exercise, then increase the weight at a later session.
  • Do an exercise 8 to 15 times; rest a minute and repeat it 8 to 15 more times. Take 3 seconds to lift and 3 seconds to lower weights. Never jerk weights into position.
  • If you can’t lift a weight more than 8 times, it’s too heavy; if you can lift it more than 15 times, it’s too light.
  • Don’t hold your breath while straining.
  • These exercises may make you sore at first, but they should never cause pain.
  • Stretch after strength exercises.


  • Add the following modifications to your regularly scheduled lower-body strength exercises: As you progress, hold onto the table or chair with one hand, then one finger, then no hands. If you are steady on your feet, progress to no hands and eyes closed. Ask someone to watch you the first few times, in case you lose your balance.
  • Don’t do extra strength exercises to add these balance modifications. Simply add the modifications to your regularly scheduled strength exercises.
  • Another way to improve your balance is through “anytime, anywhere” balance exercises. One example: Balance on one foot, then the other, while waiting for the bus. Do as often as desired.


  • Stretching exercises may help keep you limber.
  • Stretching exercises alone will not improve endurance or strength.
  • Do stretching exercises after endurance and strength exercises, when your muscles are warm.
  • If stretching exercises are the only kind of exercise you are able to do, do them at least 3 times a week, up to every day. Always warm up your muscles first.
  • Do each exercise 3 to 5 times at each session.
  • Hold the stretched position for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Total session should last 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Move slowly into position; never jerk into position.
  • Stretching may cause mild discomfort, but should not cause pain.

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