Regular exercise provides many health benefits, from weight management to disease prevention. However, safety is paramount to avoid unnecessary injuries or setbacks. We’ve compiled eight tips to help you exercise safely and get the most out of your workout session.
- Get the Green Light from Your Doctor
Before beginning a new exercise routine, or if it’s been a while since you’ve consistently exercised, you should consult your physician first. Working with your doctor helps determine your readiness for activity, guidelines and adaptations for injuries or conditions, and when an exercise professional could be helpful.
- Start Slowly, Increase Gradually
Incorporate exercise in small bouts as you’re getting started. Then, slowly increase your duration, intensity, and frequency. Starting slower will allow your body to adapt and develop endurance and strength. If you begin with too much too fast, you can increase the risk of injury. Your schedule will adjust better to a gradual start as well. Extensive routines can be hard to keep consistent when beginning or trying something new.
- Warm Up and Cool Down
The warm-up and cool-down tend to get overlooked, but they are crucial elements of a safe workout. A ten-to-fifteen-minute warm-up consisting of dynamic stretching and light activity helps the body’s muscles, circulation, and respiration prepare for exercise. Conversely, a cool-down with decreasing exercise and static stretching brings the body back into a resting state and promotes proper recovery.
- Pay Attention to Your Surroundings and the Weather
Whenever you’re exercising outside, keep an eye on the forecast and your surroundings. Know the temperature, windchill, and chances of hazardous weather before you begin. Look out for traffic, shared roadways, and busy intersections. Think about leaving the earbuds at home so you can use your eyes and ears to pay attention.
- Listen to Your Body
Listen to your body and adapt your workout accordingly. Some days your body might benefit more from an altered activity or a rest day. Don’t get so tied to your schedule that you ignore an overused muscle and cause further injury. If pain or soreness persists, be sure to talk with your doctor.
- Stay Hydrated
Be sure to drink water before, during, and after your exercise session to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you, or make sure water is easily accessible. The addition of an electrolyte replacement, such as a sports drink, might be necessary during prolonged or intense exercise.
- Use Proper Form and Technique
Always prioritize proper form and technique. If unsure, work with an exercise professional, like a certified personal trainer, for guidance and critique. Use a mirror during your exercise to keep an eye on form. If a mirror isn’t available, record yourself performing several repetitions on your phone. Ensure every repetition is performed correctly before increasing in intensity, resistance, weight, or speed. If not, adjust down and listen to your body.
- Allow for Proper Rest and Recovery
Adequate rest and recovery are part of a balanced exercise routine. Vary your cardio when possible, and keep at least one rest day between strength training with the same muscle groups. Allow your body to refuel with proper hydration, nutritious foods, and restful sleep. You can incorporate more recovery into your routine with regular stretching, foam rolling, or massage.
Always consult with your physician before starting a new exercise program.
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