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New Year Fitness Goals? Learn How to Stay Safe While Exercising


Starting an exercise program is a feat that should be congratulated and admired. However, it is also something that should be done with thought and concern. It is important to implement an appropriate exercise program that is safe and conducive to an individual’s health. Often, individuals try to do too much, causing serious injuries when exercising. REMSA would like to remind people of the importance of safety when taking part in a workout routine.

Safety first

This should be the mantra of anyone starting an exercise program. Whether it’s cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength or a combination of the two, your path to success should begin with a health screening at your doctor’s office. During your visit, your doctor will have you perform tests designed to determine whether your body can handle the stress of exercise.

Your doctor will also help you establish health and fitness benchmarks so you can set goals and track improvements in your health over time. Your doctor’s seal of approval will also help you build the self-confidence and sense of security that you’ll need as you begin a new exercise program. You’ll also need to learn about which activities you can safely perform, the types of footwear and apparel you should wear and the best approaches to preventing blood sugar swings – both high and low – during and after exercise. 

Understanding the risks 

There are several potentially serious, often hidden, risks involved with exercise. Of these, a sudden cardiac event like a heart attack or arrhythmia is the most dangerous. Fortunately, these events occur only rarely and are largely preventable with appropriate screening for risk factors and treatment. Microvascular complications, like advanced retinopathy, also can worsen during exercise.

Your doctor should assess your predisposition to these risks and help you manage them appropriately. Under close medical supervision, almost anyone can safely engage in structured exercise.

Follow these tips to exercise safely and avoid injury

  • Get a medical checkup before you start any exercise program. Find out if there are activities you should avoid because of your health condition. For example, swimming would be a better choice than jogging if you have knee problems.
  • Get coaching on how to improve your skill and exercise safely. Seek advice from experts. Learn how to use exercise and sports equipment properly. Beginners should train with a certified exercise advisor to learn correct techniques and safety.
  • Be properly conditioned before you start any recreational sports program. Allow improvements in your performance to occur over weeks or even months, not in a day.
  • Warm up and stretch for 5 to 10 minutes before you start any sport or workout. Cool down afterward for 10 to 15 minutes by slowing down and stretching.
  • Wear clothing appropriate for the activity. Wear lightweight, breathable clothes in hot weather. Wear warm, protective clothing in cold weather. Clothing that is too tight will restrict your movement and circulation.
  • Wear safety equipment geared to your activity.
  • Remember that overuse injuries are caused by training mistakes, like running too far, executing backhand hits improperly while playing tennis or wearing the wrong shoes for an activity.
  • Working out before an old injury fully heals can lead to re-injury. If you still have pain or swelling, do not exercise the area!
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising.

Do I need to see my doctor before I start?

In order to begin your exercise program safely and effectively, answer the following questions. If you are unsure of any answer, it is recommended that you see a doctor to accurately determine the safety of beginning an exercise program. If have been told by a physician that you have any cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, or metabolic disease such as diabetes, obtain permission from your doctor before beginning or changing your exercise program.

  • Are you a man over 45-years-old?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Are you a women over the age of 55? Or, are you less than 55-years-old and past menopause, but not taking estrogen?
  • Has any male family member died of a heart attack before age 55? Or, has any female family member died of a heart attack before age 65?
  • Do you smoke cigarettes?
  • Has a doctor ever told you have high blood pressure? Or, has your blood pressure been measured more than once at greater than 140 over 90? Or, do you take high blood pressure medicine?
  • Has your doctor ever told you that you have high cholesterol? Or, do you know if your total cholesterol is greater than 200? Or, is your HDL cholesterol less than 35?
  • Do you consider yourself physically inactive at work and during your leisure time? 


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