Safety First Fitness

Safety first, quality second, quantity third.

That’s a rule I learned to live by from an old mentor of mine, and it is certainly applicable when talking about exercise.

Safety is of course, most important, because the point of exercise is to help you become healthier and to prevent injuries, not to cause them.

Quality is next, because life is busy, and you want to optimize your time spent in a work out. Performing 5 repetitions with a weight that is heavier than your body is used to, is much more effective than performing 100 repetitions with a very light weight. You also want your movements and form to be correct to get the most quality out of what you do.

Quantity, though last on the list, is still important, because just getting your body moving and doing something is one of the hardest steps to take.

Today, we'll focus on the first principle: Safety 

Tips for exercising safely:

  • Make sure you are cleared for exercise by your physician - find out what your limitations are, if any, and have an annual check-up
  • Wear proper attire - loose clothes and close-toed indoor gym shoes
  • Warm up and cool down - at least 3 to 5 minutes each
  • Unclutter your area - make sure you have enough floor space and put equipment away after using
  • Gradually increase exercise intensity as you become more trained - don’t do too much, too fast
  • Plan out at least one rest day per week - don’t overtrain
  • Listen to your body - don’t work out if you are sick, and stop if you feel faint or dizzy
  • Stay hydrated - drink water before, during and after the workout
  • Use proper form - start by using little, or no weight for strength exercises, until you get the hang of it
  • Use equipment properly - use it as it was made to be used - get help if you’re not sure
  • Prepare according to the weather if working out outdoors - wear layers in the cold, don’t work out in the middle of the day, in a hot climate
  • Be smart about running/biking on the road - wear bright colors, wear blinking lights in the dark, follow the rules of the road

Everyone, but especially new exercisers, will experience some delayed muscle soreness. This is normal, but any joint or muscle pain that lasts more than 2 weeks should be checked out by a doctor. If you experience any chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness that does not resolve by ceasing the exercise bout, go to the emergency room, immediately. Following my safety tips will help you to avoid these types of complications and injuries. After all, if you don’t have your health, what do you have?

~Shara Swager, Fitness Specialist, Health As We Age, Inc.