How to Stay Safe as You Exercise
Exercise benefits the mind and body by delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the tissues, thus helping the cardiovascular system work more efficiently. The goal of any exercise program is to stay active and injury-free. These tips can help you stay safe while still getting the most out of your workout:
- Check your gear. Make sure your shoes and clothing fit properly and are appropriate for the activity. Replace your shoes every six months as the cushioning wears out.
- Warm up. Take five to 10 minutes to warm up. Slow stretches and deep breathing can increase blood flow and help loosen up your body. However, never stretch to the point of pain.
- Start slow. When you begin an exercise program, start slowly by gradually building up intensity, frequency and duration. Exercising for 30 minutes, five days a week is the average fitness recommendation.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water every 20 minutes while exercising. If you engage in a difficult workout or participate in a marathon or triathlon, drink fluids that include essential electrolytes. Keeping hydrated helps prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion.
- Mix it up. Reduce the risk of overtraining and boredom by adding new activities that keep you motivated. Yoga and swimming can help improve cardiovascular, muscular and respiratory endurance while putting less stress on your joints.
- Cool down. Take five to 10 minutes to cool down after exercising and drink plenty of water to rehydrate. Having muscle soreness 12 to 24 hours after working out is normal. Call your doctor if you have persistent or intense muscle pain.
- Be smart. If you exercise at night or in an isolated area, take along a friend or your pet. Stay in well-lit areas and wear bright or light-reflective clothing for added visibility.
If you plan to participate in more strenuous activity, talk to your doctor— especially if you have any health problems. Being active can benefit everyone, but only when done safely.