As healthy and beneficial that exercising is, it also carries risks. I like to think that exercising is causing your body “controlled” damage, where you are tearing your body down just enough that it will recuperate and become stronger. But if you aren’t practicing safety when you are working out, you will very likely cause serious damage to your body, that may also be permanent. Too many people start exercising without taking the proper precautions. Sometimes, but not every time, people who do that end up injuring themselves when, if they would have followed just one safety precaution, it could have been avoided. So here are some basic tips that, if followed, will help you start exercising safely, and reducing the risk of injury while exercising. Some of these may seem like no brainers, but you would be surprised at how many people end up in pain because they didn’t do one or all of these.
Stretch, Warm-Up, Cool-Down,
I classify these things together because they all help you in preparing for your workout, and also in recuperating from your workout. Here is a brief explanation of each preparation phase and the order they should be completed:
Stretching: Stretching should be done before you do anything exercise related. It helps your body become loose, flexible, and ready for what is to come. You will want to stretch for a fairly substantial amount of time; meaning you shouldn’t just hold a stretch for 5 seconds. A good stretch will usually last about 30 seconds, of course stretching for longer than that won’t do any harm. Also of note: stretch areas of your body that are going to be used in your workout! It is surprising how many people I see get on the track at my local gym after they have just got done giving their arms a great stretching, but not their legs.
Warm-Up: You are going to want to do this after you stretch because a warm up is a pre/mini-workout in which you are, yet again, preparing your body for the coming beating it is going to get! warm-ups are usually just a light exercise that doesn’t last very long. A simple one would be going for a light 5-10 minute jog. It is basically any short little exercise that is going to get your heart rate going and your muscles ready for your workout.
Cool-Down: This is basically the same idea of a warm-up. Just like in warming up you are easing your muslces into a state that makes for the optimal state, in a cool-down you are easing them out of the working out state and into one that is more optimal for recuperating. This helps ease the soreness that you get in your muscles after working out. A cool-down could be similar to what you did in your warm-up, like a 5-10 minute jog. You basically want to do light workout where you are still using your muscles, but not too much. Make sense?
Stretch…Again!: Yes, stretching after you have finished cooling down is very wise thing to do. This will help prevent the soreness in your muscles as well, and also works to help maintain, or increase, flexibility after you have just torn your muscles to pieces.
Staying hydrated is very important when exercising. It helps you keep some energy while working out, thus improving your performance. If you aren’t drinking water during your workout you will get tired much faster, get cramps, or other problems effecting your exercise. As for how much water you should be drinking, I think that you are all well aware of how your body feels when it is hydrated, or at least when it is not. Just remember to keep hydrated during your workout, but at the same time you don’t want drink too much. You know your body, so judge it for yourself!
Wearing Appropriate Clothing and Safety Equipment
Wearing appropriate clothing is just as important as everything else on this list. The recommended type of clothing is comfortable and loose-fitting that will absorb your body’s sweat and let your body breathe. Having tight fitting clothes or suits will trap in all of the heat and moisture that your body gives off, which will likely cause overheating which may give rise to a number of other health problems. I also associate wearing proper clothing with wearing the proper safety gear when necessary. Just a couple things that you should wear for safety is a helmet and pads when you are cycling, a weight lifting belt in those situations, and bright colored/reflective clothes if walking at night.
Don’t Go Crazy
I guess what I mean by this is that all things should be taken in moderation, including exercise. Going to the gym and shredding your muscles on a daily basis is not the best thing that you could be doing for your body. For optimal results, muscles should be allowed to recuperate before going back and tearing them up again. However, don’t let your body rest, by any means. There are other areas of your body that you can work. After a day of shredding your muscles by weight training, why not do some cardio the next day; go and jump on a treadmill and shake things up a bit. On a side-note, read the Treadmill Sensei‘s reviews so you can choose the best treadmill with the best deal. Or even just go outside for a run, that always works too.
Well there ya have it, those are some pretty basic safety tips for exercising; though they may be basic, make no mistake that they are effective. Good luck with all of your fitness goals and remember to always practice safety when exercising!