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Fitness Safety Tips to Prevent Injury

Exercise is good for you - but only if it’s done safely. Work your body too hard or make other fitness mistakes and you may feel it in the morning in the form of an injury. There are certain tips you can follow, however, to prevent injury while working out.

Follow these below:

Always warm up and cool down

It may not feel like the warm up or cool down does anything, but they’re essential. Warming up helps to dilate your blood vessels and supply oxygen to your muscles. Cooling down helps to slowly bring down your heart rate.

“Stretching allows for greater range of motion and eases the stress on the joints and tendons, which could potentially prevent injury,”

says Johnny Lee, M.D., director of the Asian Heart Initiative at the New York University Langone Medical Center.

“Warming up, such as low-heart rate cardio, prepares the circulatory and respiratory system for the upcoming ‘age- and type-appropriate target heart rate’ exercising, whether it’s endurance or sprint type of activities.”

Choose shoes that match your activity

Wearing cycling shoes while running is one example of an exercise mistake that could cause injury. Depending on your activity, wear shoes that are compatible and offer plenty of support. For example, jogging requires proper running shoes that support the ankles and arches of the feet. Don’t settle for shoes that don’t match your activity.

Wear reflective gear when exercising outdoors

Even if you’re exercising in daylight, it’s important to wear bright, reflective clothing when outside so that vehicles can see you. At nighttime or during dawn or dusk, have some type of light so passing automobiles can spot you from a distance.

Listen to your body

Do you know your limits? Understanding how far you can push yourself is crucial to preventing injury while working out. Watch for signs such as aching, throbbing, or other discomforts while exercising. These are warnings from your body to slow down and/or take a break.

Do not do more than you can handle

It’s good to set fitness goals, but allow yourself to work up to them. The American Heart Association says that the average adult should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes, and moderate to high-intensity, muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits. Start with this amount before pushing yourself farther.

Be mindful of the weather

Is it going to be a hot day? Don’t exercise outside in the afternoon. Wait until dusk or early morning when the temperature is cooler. Also, wear comfortable, light clothing so your body heat can escape. Be sure to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration – healthy muscles require plenty of fluids.

Stretch after your cool down

Many people think stretching is the first thing they should do before a workout. Not so. Stretching cold muscles (muscles that haven’t been warmed up yet) can lead to injury. Instead, stretch while your muscles are warm. This will also help prevent the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to muscle cramping and stiffness.

Often, people who exercise regularly get a surge of motivation – are you one of them? Be careful, however, because that motivation can push you to an injury.

Be sure to follow these safety tips above to ensure your body gets stronger in time, not weaker. And if an injury does occur while working out, stop by a GoHealth Urgent Care location nearby. We’re ready to help.

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