Everyone who participates in any physical activity, whether it be as part of a sports team or alone, fitness or cardio, or something as simple as walking around the neighborhood, should make safety a priority. Staying safe while exercising isn’t just about consulting your doctor before starting an exercise program or joining a team. It means to know how to do the activity safely to avoid injury. No matter which stage of the program you’re in, beginner or professional, safety should always come first.

The simple fact is that over-exercising or not properly exercising can cause injury and may lead to quitting. You should aim for steady progress not perfection with fast results the first time you exercise.

Always play it safe to reduce your risk of injury:

• Wear appropriate shoes for the activity you choose.
• Be sure to warm up before exercise to loosen your muscles and prepare your body for activity, and make sure to cool down afterward to help your heart rate slow to normal levels.
• Begin all exercise programs slowly with low-intensity workouts, then build up to higher intensity programs.
• Become familiar with your surroundings. Get to know the terrain. Are there any obstacles or potentially dangerous spots you’ll need to avoid? Know who or what is around you and prepare accordingly.
• Wear safety gear to avoid injury or, if you exercise at night, so you can be seen by oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
• Drink water before, during, and after your workout session. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, do it anyway. Your body loses water through sweat when you work out, so be sure to replenish it to stay hydrated. Water is an essential element and aids in your body’s function.
• Dress appropriately for the weather. If the conditions are hazardous or too dangerous, opt to exercise indoors instead—head to the gym or exercise at home. You can find many workouts online or use an app to guide you through a workout routine.
• Consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program to help you make the right decisions for your health.
• Listen to your body. If your breathing becomes labored or you feel pain, stop, assess, and rest if you must.
• Practice strength training by beginning with light weights and gradually work up to more reps.
• Make sure to incorporate an exercise that’s good for balance. It will help with other exercises that you do.
• Use flexibility bands to help you stretch during your warm up and cool down.
• Exercise with a partner. Not only will a partner motivate you and keep you accountable, but they can help you recognize when you might have pushed yourself too far.

Final Notes

Pay attention to what your numbers. Know what your optimal heart rate range should be for physical activity. Know when it’s time to slow down or when something may be askew. Track the exercises you’ve done and the number of reps, so you’ll have a guide to point to if something goes wrong as well as help you see your progress.

By Laura Trevino