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How to Stay Active Forever

Try these 12 easy ways to avoid getting injured during exercise

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Achillies

Stretch your Achilles to cut your risk of getting hurt. — Illustration by Juliette Borda

5. Coddle the Achilles. Achilles tendon injuries are especially common among older runners, a 2011 study found. That's because as we age, our connective tissues lose some elasticity. Stretch your Achilles by leaning against a wall, with one leg extended behind you, heel on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds, then slightly bend the knee on the extended leg and hold for another 30 seconds. Switch legs.

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Twinges

Feeling sore or pain during your workout? You may want to back off from training. — Illustration by Juliette Borda

6. Listen to the twinges. Many of us, including hard-core exercisers like me, continue to work out through soreness and pain. "If something hurts, back off from training," Wright says. If the discomfort lingers, see a doctor. After age 40, muscles contain fewer satellite cells — specialized stem cells that help tissues repair themselves. With fewer satellite cells, minor muscle tears can turn into major injuries.

Strengthen shoulders

Shoulders are more vulnerable to injury as you age, especially for tennis and golf players. — Illustration by Juliette Borda

7. Strengthen your shoulders. Many older tennis and golf players are startled when they hurt their shoulders after years of injury-free play. "With age you lose some of the water content in tendons and ligaments," Coyner explains. Drier and more brittle, they can rip or fray. Strengthen your shoulders by grasping both ends of an elastic tube and pulling the tubing apart. Repeat five times.

Jump Rope

Make chocolate milk your post-workout drink. — Illustration by Juliette Borda

8. Drink chocolate milk. "Consuming some protein after exercise, especially as we get older, appears to help the muscles rebuild themselves more effectively," Phillips says. When the protein is combined with carbohydrates, such as the sugar in chocolate milk, muscles recover even better. If you're trying to lose weight, "plain milk works well, too," Phillips adds — but it isn't nearly as much fun to drink.

Next: Prevent sore heels and arches with this exercise. »

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Video Extra

Martina Navratilova explains why stretching is important and demonstrates how to stretch properly.

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