by A. Abrams April 17, 2019
Unless you’re some work of a miracle, exercise is a necessity for everyone.
Nearly every person at any age can exercise safely and benefit their health. Even if you have a chronic condition like heart disease or diabetes, it’s possible – and can even sometimes help you improve your condition.
Whether you play on a sports team, frequently work out in the gym, or even just take walks daily, it’s important to be sure that you’re not hurting yourself during your routine.
“How can I hurt myself by doing what’s good for my health?”, you ask. Easily, is my answer. Very easily.
If you’re starting a new activity or haven’t been active in a long time, it’s important to pay attention to your body and protect yourself from injury. A frequent mistake many people make is over-exercising, which can lead to injury. This can lead to quitting your routine before you’re even used to it, so that’s why a steady rate of progress is the best approach to remaining committed and seeing real change.
Try these tips to exercise safely and reduce your chance of injury:
- Start your exercise program slowly.
- Give yourself low intensity exercises. Anyone can do 15 repetitions of an exercise with low weights. Start small, then progress as you feel it becoming easier after a few weeks.
- Wear the right gear.
- If you’re running, wear running shoes! Keep those feet in good condition. Further, your shoes have a significant effect on how your feet make contact with the ground. Because running is a higher-impact exercise, it can make strain on your knees and back. The right shoes, however, can make a difference.
- You wouldn’t wear sandals to the chemical lab for fear of toxic chemicals touching your feet, so imagine if you dropped a weight on your foot and you didn’t have the extra cushioning of a sneaker.
- Wear comfortable clothes that you can sweat in without overheating. Keep it cool!
- Warm up and cool down.
- Make sure to stretch the muscle groups you plan on working on that day before you exercise.
- Quick exercises like jumping-jacks, push-ups, and high-knees get your blood pumping and loosens up your body for further activity.
- Play it safe when outdoors.
- Run in places that you’re familiar with; popular shopping districts, around a crowded park, a school running track.
- If you’re exercising in the dark or near wooded areas that you aren’t familiar with, be especially careful by letting people know where you are going to be.
- Running or biking by a road in the early morning? Try wearing a reflective belt so cars can see you.
- DRINK WATER!
- It’s so important to drink water while you’re exercising. Be sure to drink water before, during, and after your routine.
- Keep it cool in the summer.
- If it’s especially hot out, try a gym membership or exercise inside to keep your body at a safe temperature and avoid overheating.
- I’ll say it again: drink water!
- If you’re pregnant or have specific health conditions, ask your doctor about starting an exercise routine.
- Some health conditions require specific needs, such as pregnancy, whereas you probably shouldn’t be doing high-impact exercises.
- Eat a good meal before and after your exercise routine!
- Make sure to eat the right meal to provide your body with the energy it needs to function properly.
- Even if you need to meal prep, you need to make sure your fueling your body so you can work out safely.
- Before doing any kind of cardio or strength training workout, you need to have a good amount of carbohydrate intake. Runners often “carbo-load” hours before a race; so think of it like that. Get a good meal in before exercising, not to feel full but to feel energized throughout your whole workout.
- Make sure to get a good meal not long after exercising, too. You’ll need protein to fill in the tiny tears in your muscles that occur during workouts. Protein keeps your muscles strong and helps you make them larger. Without protein, you’re just tearing your muscles and weakening yourself.
- Our meals have a great balance of all of the micronutrients you need to keep your body in good condition. Click here to see our article on micronutrients.
Listen to your body. If it hurts, then it’s probably too much. You should always feel some strain when you’re exercising but it should never hurt you. If you exercise and then feel intense pain the next day, give yourself a few days of rest before trying again with less weight or a less intense exercise. Usually, the duration of the exercise isn’t what hurts people: it’s too much weight all at once.
Exercise with a friend if you don’t feel comfortable doing it alone, and you can always ask for help. If you’re nervous about going to a gym for the first time, trainers are usually available in-house to answer your questions. Sometimes it’s worth the money to pay a trainer to help you learn how to exercise properly and practice forms that are safe for you and your needs.