Exercise is a normally safe and advisable activity with many benefits for physical, social and emotional health. If you keep it safe, it will more likely be an agreeable engagement on a routine basis. Taking time to know some workout basics and showing common sense while listening to your body are good ways to be prepared.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
While workout soreness might give you a sense of accomplishment, it isn’t always a good sign. This is often a symptom that the body needs to slow down for a while. Listening to your body is important. Ignoring it can actually lead to negative results, even fat gain and muscle loss. Moreover, it increases the potential for injury, which might take you out of practice for at least the day if not longer.
Some of the signs that you’re pushing too hard include things like:
- It stops being fun. This is one of the first signs to manifest, especially if feeling cruddy persists during the workout. Switching exercises during the week can break up overstress, and a weekly schedule should always include two days of rest.
- Persistent soreness. This should only happen after adopting a new routine. If you’re still sore doing a normal routine, especially right afterward, rest your muscles, and ease back into exercise after the pain has dropped off.
- Painful joints. Joint overuse is even more common than muscle stress. Leave off right away and consider the RICE, or rest, ice, compression and elevation, method, and prioritize quality over amount.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
Warmups before and cooldowns after a workout help prevent stress through a sudden rate of change of activity. Warming up elevates the heart rate and blood flow gradually. Cooling down does the opposite and prevents stiffness by easing everything back down to a more resting condition.
Warmups should be done 5 to 10 minutes beforehand and elevate the system without inducing fatigue. Aerobic activity, such as walking at a quick pace for 10 minutes, will help prepare for running or strength training.
Cooldowns are similar in that they’re a slower version of the workout itself. Another 10-minute walk is good practice. This is also a good time for stretching as the tissues are more flexible and allow a greater range of movement. Effective exercises include calf, hamstring, quads and lower-body stretching followed by upper-body stretches in the upper back, shoulders, neck, and arms.
Workout injuries aren’t uncommon and can include everything from muscle strains and knee injuries to heat exhaustion and impact. Lightheadedness, fatigue or nausea could be a result of dehydration, heat exhaustion or a sudden change in blood pressure, which requires immediate attention. Head trauma can happen too, such as landing on something in a trip and fall.
Accidents do happen, so it’s a good idea to know the common signs and symptoms of brain injuries in case you do hit your head. It’s also a good idea to know what to do with cuts or bruises sprains on the field or in a gym.
In any case, you can’t go wrong with having a first aid kit on hand containing the basics, such as dressings, antiseptic wipes, bandages or instant cold packs along with first-aid information card. Being prepared means you have more options available should an incident occur.
Workouts should be fun and beneficial. Studying or asking your doctor about what to expect and finding ways to safeguard your health are good practice for keeping you injury-free and active while gaining the inherent benefits of physical exercise.
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