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Banged Up and Bruised Boomers

Weekend Warriors

Stay Balanced

Make sure your fitness regimen includes a balance of cardiovascular activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises. "The better condition you're in, the less likely you are to get injured," says DiNubile. And if you haven't been exercising for quite some time, it's a good idea to get your doctor's approval before starting up again.

Spice Up Your Life

By mixing up your game plan -- say, walking three days a week, then rounding out the week with stationary cycling and rowing machine workouts -- you'll give muscles a rest that might otherwise be subject to overuse.

Stretch Early and Often

While there isn't much research to definitively show that stretching keeps injury at bay, many experts are convinced that it helps. "Tight muscles are susceptible to injury," says DiNubile, "and since muscle tissue decreases in elasticity and develops scar tissue with age, older muscles are even more vulnerable."

It's important, though, to stretch only when the muscles have been warmed up. So save flexibility exercises for the end of your aerobic workouts, or do them only after five to 10 minutes of activity vigorous enough to make you break a sweat. Running in place or walking several blocks should do the trick.

Go for the Gear

A helmet for cycling, wrist guards for in-line skating, running shoes that fit properly -- such accoutrements can sometimes make the crucial difference between enjoying your workout and ending up in the ER or doctor's office.

Don't Rush

Be conservative as you build up your workouts. Increase your activity by only 10% per week; for instance, move from running 20 minutes to 22 minutes rather than jumping to 30 minutes.

This final point is a lesson that Duffy, unfortunately, had to learn the hard way. But now she's back on track. "I want to eventually run a 10-mile race, but I'm working up to the distance very slowly," she says. "I'm also doing a lot of yoga these days. No more being the weekend warrior."

Daryn Eller is a health and fitness writer based in Venice, Calif. Her work has appeared in Health, Self, Fitness, and many other publications.

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Reviewed on October 16, 2001

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