Are you out of shape and not used to being active? Or are you in great shape with a consistent exercise routine in place? No matter which category you fall into, you are at risk. There’s the potential to injure yourself if you fail to take safety precautions when exercising. What precautions?

Tips For Exercising Safely

A rule of thumb that most people know is in regards to warm-up and cool-down periods. You shouldn’t jump straight into intense exercise nor should you stop abruptly without gradually reducing intensity. But what are some other important things to keep in mind?

Start Slow

Similar to a warm-up period at the start of each exercise session, you should increase your overall activity level over time. As you can imagine, going from a couch potato to a triathlon participant in a week will probably cause you injury.

Instead of starting out in high gear, gradually get your body used to more and more challenging activity. Especially with new exercises or when you’re out of practice, you need to ensure that your body can handle the demands of your chosen exercise.

The way to do this is not to go all out and hurt yourself (e.g. I ran 5 miles and couldn’t walk for a week afterward). Instead, start slow and work your way up to the max of what you can handle (e.g. I ran one mile, three times a week this month. Next month, I’ll aim for two miles.).

Stay Hydrated

Keeping hydrated is essential. However, some mistakenly think that this simply refers to drinking plenty of water. While this is generally fine for moderate exercise, more strenuous activities such as marathons require more than H2O can provide.

In such cases, a person doesn’t just need to replace fluids lost. They also need to replenish electrolytes, which fuel many of the body’s automatic processes. Therefore, drinks designed for that purpose are a better choice.

If you fail to keep hydrated, you could become lightheaded, dizzy or fatigued. You may also experience painful muscle cramps. If electrolytes are not replenished, you could experience symptoms such as nausea, irregular heartbeat and changes in blood pressure.

Avoid Training Too Often

Especially when it comes to repetitive exercises like swimming and tennis, overuse injuries are common. Therefore, you should have enough time to rest and recover between sessions. It may also be beneficial to engage in other physical activities that primarily involve other parts of the body.

Training too often means that your body will never have enough time to recuperate, which will weaken it and leave you open to injury. Potential injuries include stress fractures, stiff joints, sore muscles and inflamed ligaments and tendons…none of which you want.

Wear Appropriate Clothing, Shoes, and Gear

It goes without saying that a baseball catcher needs a helmet and face mask. Otherwise, a fastball to the head could leave him in bad shape. But what about proper attire and gear for other, less “sporty” exercises?

For example, what if your preferred method of exercise is sprinting? Will any pair of shoes serve you well—tennis shoes, walking shoes, soccer cleats? No. You’d want to choose shoes that are designed just for sprinting so that you can get the best from your workouts.

Keep in mind, too, the need to replace your clothing, shoes, and gear often to prevent wear and tear from reducing their effectiveness.

The Most Important Exercise Tip

Above all, the most important thing is that you listen to your body. It won’t point you in the wrong direction. If you’re feeling sick, are extremely fatigued or are in severe and constant pain, stop! Continuing will only make things worse.

It’s also a good idea to consult a physician before starting a new exercise program or if there are any questions or concerns ahead of time.  If you sustain an injury, please consult your physician.

If you use the tips above as you exercise, you will drastically reduce your risk of being injured. Safety first, right?