Finding a safe place to exercise is half the battle for older folks

October 09, 1990|By Gerri Kobren

Despite their endorsement of activity for the elderly, experts recognize that disease or disorders can make some kinds of exercise inadvisable or inappropriate except with careful monitoring. No one in the senior years should begin an exercise program without medical clearance.

Nor should old people -- or younger people either -- go out to exercise in unsafe environments.

"I don't think our society has made it easy for people to remain fit," says Dr. Andrew Goldberg, principal investigator on the Fitness after 50 program.

"If the Gilman track were everywhere, that would be fine," he says. "But running on the streets of Baltimore -- that's a place where you could be injured. Biking is a good sport, but where do you bike? Try riding on Falls Road and see how long you last. I think there's a real need for environmental changes so that people can exercise without paying $1,000 for a year's membership."

One place where older men can exercise safely, and without paying, is at "Fitness over 50," which provides supervised activities at the Veterans Administration Hospital on Loch Raven Boulevard.

Healthy, non-smoking volunteers at various levels of fitness are needed for diet and exercise interventions, and to serve as sedentary controls. Whether active or sedentary, all men in the program have a thorough physical evaluation, including blood tests and cardiac evaluations.

For further information, call Loretta Lakatta, R.N., coordinator of the program, at 550-1857.

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