Exercise and other forms of physical fitness can be positively life-changing in a number of ways. Your heart, lungs, and other organs benefit, as do important physiological processes. Your mind becomes sharper, you lower your risk of contracting diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and you improve your self-esteem.
However, any time you workout or exercise, there is a chance you could become injured. When I was on the dance team in high school, I pulled a hamstring, which has never quite gotten back to normal! I wasn’t always very diligent about warming up and caring for my body before and after a workout. I know much more now.
The following 7 tips can help you have safe exercise sessions while receiving the most benefits and the fewest negative experiences.
1. Know Your Exercise Limits
You may have been an incredible athlete in the past — I was a pretty good one myself! That may not be the case anymore (it’s not for me!). If you’re over 40 years of age, the odds are you’re not in the physical shape that you used to be when you were younger. Be honest with yourself. Understand your limits. Exercise is not effective unless you stress your body, but too much stress can lead to injury.
2. Get a Spotter
This is absolutely crucial if you are strength training with a significant amount of weight. Exercises like the bench press could prove fatal if you overestimate your weightlifting ability, and there’s no one there to prevent a disaster. Typically, your fellow gym-goers will gladly spot you while you are on the bench — it’s a common safe exercise practice.
3. Switch It Up!
If you work out the same way, on the same days, in the same exact routines, it’s easy for your mind to wander. You must be absolutely focused on whatever type of physical activity you are performing, or your drifting mind can raise the risk of injury. Boredom can be dangerous.
But another reason to switch up your routines is that it allows you to work different muscles. If you work the same muscles with the same workout over and over again, it increases your risk of injury from overuse. Work out some different muscles!
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
This applies before, during, and after you exercise. When your muscles begin to cramp, this is a sign that there’s not enough water in your body for them to work properly. You should drink water before you start exercising — both one hour or so before and 15 minutes before — as well as during your actual exercise session. Hydration is important for your muscles to repair themselves.
5. Watch the Weather if Exercising Outside
Hiking, biking, and other activities that take place outdoors can become unsafe in a hurry when Mother Nature turns against you. Check the weather forecast in your area before you attempt to exercise outside.
6. Exercise Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Warming up could mean alternating walking and jogging for 5 minutes. You don’t have to spend 30 minutes stretching, you just need to “get the juices flowing”. The same walking/jogging routine after you exercise allows your body the chance to cool down slowly, rather than dramatically.
7. Get the Sun Block
Whenever the topic of safety while exercising is brought up, most people instantly think of significant physical injuries. It’s good to protect against broken bones and pulled muscles, but overexposure to the sun can create other problems that last a lifetime.
After just 15 minutes, the sun’s UV rays on your skin have created enough healthy vitamin D for your entire day. After that, you need to use sun protection in the form of sunblock, sunglasses, and some type of headgear to ensure that your habitual daylight exercise does not lead to skin cancer down the road. Long-sleeved pants and shirts should be considered as well.
I have a big hat that I wear when I go walking — I have gotten compliments!
Following these steps may not guarantee that you won’t injury yourself but it will significantly lower your risk. Exercise should be fun — here’s to safe exercise!
Loving Life — The Reboot!
This article provides general information and discussion about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having.