It is not a secret that regular exercise helps boost your fitness level. However, your approach to an exercise program will determine whether the physical activity will enhance your overall well-being or cause additional health problems. For instance, exercising too aggressively or using the wrong equipment and exercise gear can potentially result in an injury.
The most important thing to remember is that a safe exercise program always starts at a slow pace and develops at a gradual and steady pace as your body builds more strength and endurance. Over time, you’ll gain more stamina, strength, and skill to ramp up your routine.
Here are a few useful tips and advice to help you exercise safely:
Consult a Doctor Beforehand
Light and moderate exercises such as walking and short jogging exercises are perfectly fine for any healthy adult who does not suffer from troublesome symptoms. However, it is important to consult your doctor before you decide to take on more strenuous fitness activities. It is always wise to seek professional advice if you have any concerns about your health before you start heavy workouts.
You’ll definitely need to consult your doctor if you suffer from a chronic illness or have an unstable health condition such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, joint or bone diseases like osteoporosis, or respiratory ailments like asthma. Talk to a doctor prior to starting a vigorous exercise regimen if you suspect that you may be having an illness that could be aggravated by an exercise program. For instance, if you experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest pain, it is highly recommended that you see an orthopedic doctor before you start doing vigorous workouts.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
It is important to prepare your body adequately before working out by giving yourself a warm-up period. You can perform low-level aerobic activities for around 10 minutes to get your blood flowing, raise your muscle temperature, and increase your breathing rate. These simple preparations will help the body adjust to the strenuous demands of the impending exercise.
Similarly, every exercise session should end with a cooling down process in which you decrease your pace to allow your breathing and heart rate to return to normal level. Observe warm up and cooling down phases in every workout session.
Exercise in the Right Gear
Most exercise-related injuries result from wearing the wrong shoes or clothing or using the wrong equipment. Exercising using the right gear does not necessarily mean going for expensive workout apparel or equipment. The goal is to find the right gear and equipment that will make you feel safe and comfortable while working out.
You may need to seek further advice from a fitness trainer but generally here are a few things you’ll need for safe workouts:
- For activities such as walking and running, you’ll need a pair of athletic shoes that fit comfortably. Workout shoes should also be replaced every 6 months or sooner depend on how hard or regularly you use them.
- Exercise in weather-appropriate clothing at all times. In warm and hot months, exercise in comfortable clothing that gives you freedom of movement and is also light enough to dissipate body heat. In cold weather, ensure that you are dressed in layers that can be shed off when the body temperature rises.
- Do not forget protective equipment such as reflective clothing for street jogging and helmets for cycling activities.
Physiotherapy and Safe Exercising
The medical field of physiotherapy provides numerous benefits in workout safety. Physiotherapy focuses on orthopedic, cardiopulmonary, and neurological problems in children, adults, and older populations. The goal of physiotherapy is to strengthen and heal the entire body. Exercise techniques used by physiotherapists help the body to rebuild tissue weakened by injury or illness. For example, a person recovering from back injury or suffering from constant back pain can find relief and exercise safely with the assistance of a physiotherapist. The regular exercise conducted under the supervision of a trained physiotherapist helps patients with back problems to rebuild core muscles. Middle and lower back pain are often caused by weakened core muscles. Physiotherapy provides focused exercises for the entire body such as Pilates and physiological stretches that help tone and strengthen core muscles of the body.
As people advance in age, their bodies inevitably undergo physical changes. Some of the natural age-related problems include reduced muscle strength, decreasing bone density, accumulation of fat, stiffer joints, and slowed coordination. Physiotherapy cannot stop the aging process but it helps to reduce the effects of age on our bodies. Physiotherapists can identify factors that reduce the levels of activity and find ways to overcome these weakening factors. They are the best professionals to help older people remain active for as long as possible through simple and safe exercises.
Older people or those with problematic health conditions can rely on physiotherapists to work out safely and improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. Regular exercising under the supervision of a physiotherapist also helps in pain management and reduction. Research has proven that physiotherapy provides the safest mode of exercising for older people.
Remember to Hydrate
Exercising raises the body’s temperature and makes the body sweat more than it normally does. It is, therefore, important to replace the fluids lost through sweat during your exercise session. Failure to replace lost fluids will leave you dehydrated. You could even suffer a heat stroke or exhaustion if you do not hydrate while exercising. It is recommended to drink 16 ounces or two cups of water around 15 minutes before you begin your exercising and 2 more cups while cooling down at the end of the session. A quick sip while exercising will also help to keep you hydrated.
It is important to listen to your body during and after your workout sessions. While it is normal to experience sore muscles 12 to 24 hours after a demanding workout session, you’ll need to consult a doctor if the soreness persists for more than a week. Any sharp or sudden pain experienced during your exercising session could be a sign of serious condition and should not be ignored. More importantly, avoid working out when you are extremely tired or feeling sick. Exercise smart by increasing the intensity of your workouts gradually and you’ll be safe.
About The Author:
Russell Thompson provides an all-around physiotherapy service in Werribee. He is the Director and Senior Physiotherapist at Wyndham Physio and Rehabilitation. Working with a professional team, he specializes in a variety of musculoskeletal conditions and has consulted numerous Olympic Athletes.