Sam Bauman: When is too much exercise too much exercise?



I’ve often mentioned my exercise program in the past, especially when I thought it might inspire other seniors to remain active. But now the two-hour daily stint is getting boring, particularly on the three days when I add aerobics on treadmill and bike.

My routine was something I had created from many sources over the years, starting when I was teaching skiing at Big Bear Mountain in Southern California.

When I moved to Tahoe and began teaching at Heavenly’s Boulder Base, I enlarged the workout to about and hour, figuring that daily class work would keep me fit. I never aimed at making myself bigger and better, just staying where I was and not declining. The exercise was designed to keep me skiing as I aged.

But the long workouts were demanding and eating into my mornings.

That’s when I talked to Stephen Yasmer, manager of therapy services for Carson Tahoe Health, about my fitness program. I did so and brought with me a printout with me that read something like this:

“Flat on back, lift knees on at a time to the chest for 30 reps.

“Using 8-pound weights lift up, out, frontwards, over head each 30 times.” And so on.

The list was more than two pages long, and we went over it together. At the end he said if it wasn’t causing me pain, it sounded good but was way too long.

“Make some of the actions tougher and shorter,” he said. “Instead of 120 leaning pushups, do 10 or 15 traditional ones. And wherever possible make the action more demanding and with less reps.”

I said I was considering reducing my present routine to include tai chi once a week. I had added some tai chi moves to the routine over the years.

“Yes, that might add variety, but don’t cut back on your present routine except as I’ve suggested,” he said. “And meanwhile, sign up for some therapy now.”

So I did.

Meanwhile, I showed him my left knee, which had become painful a few days ago. No reason, I hadn’t bumped it or fallen on it. I had taken the naproxen to ease the pain. When I had my right knee replaced I took painkillers and vowed not to do so again.

He checked and diagnosed inflammation. “Just use cold compresses for 20 minutes at a time. Take the naproxen for a day or so.”

I used the cold compresses every couple of hours and the hot knee cooled down, and the pain ebbed away and hasn’t come back.

Yasmer also checked my flexibility and muscular strength and suggested a series of physical therapy sessions to reduce my ever-present back pain, the result of too many falls on the ski trails.

I’ve had the back pain for years and many therapists have tried to help with little success.

I’ve got a schedule for therapy that stretches to ski season with a professional therapist named Isabel, who worked me over in prep for the sessions. I’ll report on how those go in the future.

And I’m lucky that the apartment building I live in on Russell Way has an exercise room couple with stationary bike, treadmill and stair steppers. I’m apparently the only resident to use it, as well as the outdoor hot tub a couple of hundred feet from the exercise room.

While I use the treadmill regularly, I’m happy to enjoy the nearby bike and hike trail along Highway I-580. And before the Big Mac multiuse athletic facility began to rise, there was a nice field of sagebrush where one could walk.

So I hope that this report encourages activity among seniors. As Yasmer said, ”Not how good or bad the routine was but that I was active.” That’s what counts. Pant, gasp, pant.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal. Check out his blog at


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