FORT LEE, Va. (May 29, 2014) -- The combination of summer weather, longer daylight hours and barbecue smells wafting through the air often bring back memories of our youth. Many recall the anticipation of "no more pencils, no more books," and those glorious times when every outdoor activity from sports to swimming was yours to enjoy.

Regretfully though, the Alice Cooper "Schools Out" days are over now that we're "Working for a Living," but that shouldn't stop us from enjoying ourselves even if we're not as spry as we used to be. This article includes the "codes of exercise" I live by at age 40.

Warming up is not just for leftovers in the refrigerator -- 5-10 minutes of proper warm-up can save you a lifetime of pain. There are a variety of ways to get your body and muscles ready for the physical exertion of an outdoor sporting exercise. For softball, I play catch for a few minutes with a player 10-20 feet away and gradual increase the distance. For volleyball, I do a few jumps where I try to touch a spot 6-10 inches above my outstretched arms across the front of the net, and then practice some bumps and sets. If I decide to go out for a run, I start slowly and even walk for 1-2 minutes before increasing my speed to a running pace at about minute seven (a GPS watch helps).

Be aware also that an aging body takes longer to cool down after strenuous exercise or any activity under the hot summer sun. Healthy eating and drinking will help to maintain a proper balance of body temperatures. When going for a longer run or while outside doing moderate sports activities like volleyball, football or soccer, I tend to reach for drinks that promote rapid rehydration rather than alcoholic beverages that are proven to have exact opposite effect. There are many sports drinks available; just be sure to read the label and look for unhealthy ingredients like excessive sugar or salt. Try to drink about 4-8 ounces every 15-30 minutes depending on activity, outside temperature and humidity.

Don't ignore signs of injury. For sprains, strains, muscle pulls and tears remember R.I.C.E. -- rest, ice, compression and elevation -- and seek medical attention if the pain persists. For lesser injuries think "relative rest," which is avoidance of the same activity but continued movements (in other words, walk it off, don't "suck it up"). Even if the soreness goes away, it's probably a good idea to avoid the same game for a while. You are much more likely to sustain a serious injury if you aggravate a minor one by immediately returning to the same game.

The final tip is by far the most important one … get regular physical examinations by your health care provider. That's the surest way to be made aware of potential health problems that could take you out of the game for the rest of the summer. If you have any questions or concerns, the Kenner Army Health Clinic staff is here to help.

Page last updated Thu May 29th, 2014 at 08:08