It’s a new year and many people will be returning to the gym or working out for the first time. Exercise is typically one of the top resolutions that people start at the beginning of the year. However, it is important to complete a safe and effective workout that can show the results you want, while preventing injuries. Here are 4 tips to make sure you’re exercising safely:
If you haven’t been active recently or you are starting a workout regimen for the first time, talk to your doctor about your health plan. This is especially important if you have any preexisting injuries or a chronic or unstable health condition such as heart disease (School, 2010). Healthy adults can begin with light to moderate exercise such as walking. If you experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or dizziness consult with your doctor right away before beginning an exercise regimen.
Take at least 10 minutes before and after your exercise routine to warm up and cool down. According to the American Heart Association, “a good warm-up dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. It also raises your muscles’ temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart.” (Association, 2014). Warming up increases the temperature and flexibility of your muscles, and helps you be more efficient and safer during your workout. Cooling down is also important, it keeps the blood flowing throughout the body. Stopping suddenly can cause light-headedness because your heart rate and blood pressure drop rapidly (Association, 2014). It’s good to stretch when you’re cooling down because your limbs, muscles and joints are still warm. Stretching can help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to muscles cramping and stiffness (Association, 2014).
During your exercise routine you lose water as you sweat. It’s important to replace that water to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can lead to issues such as a loss of coordination, muscle fatigue, heat illness — think confusion, cramps and exhaustion — and an inability to regulate your body temperature, all of which can affect your performance and make you sick (Ireland, 2016).
If you are returning to the gym, begin your exercise routine at a lower level by doing fewer reps or sets than before. Plan to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workout. Pace yourself and make sure to use proper form instead of rushing to complete sets or lifting weights that may be too heavy. If you are sick or feeling extremely fatigued, decrease your workouts until you feel 100%. Hiring a personal trainer at the Center is a great way to ensure you are having a safe workout for your fitness level and adding variety to your workout.
Exercising safely can prevent injuries as well as stiff joints and muscles. Talk to your doctor if you experience persistent or intense muscle pain before, during or after a workout. The fitness specialists at the Center are here to help you get the best results on your fitness journey.
Association, A. H. (2014, 9). Warm Up, Cool Down. Retrieved from American Heart Assciation : https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Warm-Up-Cool-Down_UCM_430168_Article.jsp#
Ireland, K. (2016, January 05). Importance of Drinking Water During Exercise . Retrieved from Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/339075-importance-of-drinking-water-during-exercise/
School, H. M. (2010, May). 10 Tips For Exercising Safely. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publications: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/10-tips-for-exercising-safely
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