Exercise has many benefits.
It lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke, lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes, and can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
At the same time, exercise can increase your flexibility, muscle and bone strength, and stamina.
Daily exercise is even good for your mental health. It helps to relieve stress and releases endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain.
But you must be careful when starting a new exercise routine. Your fitness plan can come to a screeching halt if you injure yourself.
Unfortunately, I speak from experience. I have fractured my ankles twice while playing pickup basketball games. I also sprained my ankle during an ill-advised football game on a rocky field that wasn’t suitable for playing sports.
A few years ago, I hurt my shoulder because I was trying to lift more weight than I was capable of lifting. I lost control of the bar and it fell on me causing a shoulder injury.
Don’t let this happen to you.
The best way to keep from injuring yourself during physical activity is to think about prevention before you start.
Here are 8 ways to prevent injuries while exercising.
Ways to Prevent Injuries While Exercising – Assess Your Goals
Before starting your exercise routine, determine what you want to accomplish.
Do you want to improve your overall health? Perhaps you want to increase your strength and stamina. You may want to have the energy to run around with your kids or grandkids. Or maybe your goal is to complete a 5K or a marathon.
Assessing your goals beforehand will allow you to design the right exercise plan that takes into account your current fitness level, time commitments, and the results you want to achieve.
Ways to Prevent Injuries While Exercising – Check With Your Doctor
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but it is so important that it bears repeating. Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
He or she can give you some sound medical advice that will help you to get the most out of your workouts and prevent injuries.
It won’t hurt to get a thorough physical exam while you’re there.
Ways to Prevent Injuries While Exercising – Start Slowly
If you throw yourself into sudden, vigorous activity, there is a good chance of your getting hurt.
At the very least, you’ll tire yourself out so quickly you’ll lose confidence in yourself and give up.
Instead, start slowly and gradually increase intensity.
Ways to Prevent Injuries While Exercising – Stretch Your Muscles
It’s important to stretch your muscles before starting any type of exercise.
Stretch gently to loosen up and increase flexibility and range-of-motion in your shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, legs, knees, ankles, and feet.
You don’t need to do a lot of repetitions, but you do need to pay attention to maintaining proper form while stretching.
When you’ve finished your exercise session, stretch gently again to cool down.
Simple stretches can go a long way toward preventing injuries.
Ways to Prevent Injuries While Exercising – Use Proper Equipment
Make to have the proper shoes for the type of exercise you’re undertaking.
Many people have injured themselves because of ill-fitting or improper footwear. Buy shoes that are designed specifically for the type of training or exercise you intend to do. brands such as Reebok, Nike, and adidas make a wide variety of shoes to suit your needs.
While you’re at the shoe store, get your feet measured so you can find shoes that fit the length and width of your foot.
In addition to wearing the proper clothing, you also need to know the right way to use exercise equipment.
For instance, if you’re not sure how to use an elliptical trainer, get instruction from someone qualified to teach you how to operate it.
Always check your equipment for defects before using it. Broken or malfunctioning equipment can lead to severe injuries.
Ways to Prevent Injuries While Exercising – Pay Attention to Nutrition
To get the best performance out of your body and to protect it, you need to fuel it properly.
Be mindful of what you eat. Choose a diet that includes plentiful vegetables and fruits, lean meat and fish, eggs, nuts, and legumes, low-fat dairy foods, whole grain bread, pastas, cereals, and rice, and healthy fats, like olive or canola oil.
Limit processed foods and sweets, including sugary beverages.
And always wait about 30 minutes after eating to begin exercising.
Adding vitamin supplements to your routine can also help.
Ways to Prevent Injuries While Exercising – Stay Hydrated
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water before, during, and after working out.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men.
You will need to increase your intake of liquids when the temperature rises.
Exercising in hot weather without proper hydration can lead to heat-related illnesses and dehydration.
Ways to Prevent Injuries While Exercising – Understand your Body’s Limitations
It’s only natural to want to relive your glory days, but it’s not always easy to do the things you used to do when you were 20.
If an activity causes discomfort or pain, stop immediately to prevent a serious injury.
Your ego may be slightly injured, but your body will be unharmed.
If you follow these tips consistently, you should have productive, injury-free workouts.
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