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Exercise Safety


Try these tips to ensure exercise safety!

Exercise Safety

Stop exercising right away if you:

  • Have a heart rate that is very rapid or fluttery.
  • Have a heart beat that is irregular or slow.
  • Have pain or pressure in the left-chest or mid-chest area, or left neck, shoulder, or arm.
  • Feel dizzy or sick.
  • Become unusually short of breath.
  • Break out in a cold sweat.
  • Have leg pains or muscle cramps.
  • Feel pain in your joints, feet, ankles, or legs. You could hurt yourself if you ignore the pain.

Sit down or lie down, and if these symptoms are not relieved in a few minutes, seek help immediately. Always be sure to report any of these occurences to your doctor so that appropriate adjustments to your exercise schedule can be made.

Avoid Over-Exercising Symptoms

  • Slow down if out of breath. You should be able to talk while exercising without gasping for breath.
  • Drink lots of water before, during, and after exercise (even water workouts) to replace the water you lose by sweating.
  • Do not do hard exercise for 2 hours after a big meal (but a 5- to 10-minute walk is OK). If you eat small meals, you can exercise more often.

Wear the Right Clothes

  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting tops so you can move easily.
  • Women should wear a good support bra.
  • Wear supportive athletic shoes for weight-bearing activities.
  • Wear clothes made of fabrics that absorb sweat and remove it from your skin.
  • Never wear rubber or plastic suits. These could hold the sweat on your skin and make your body overheat.
  • Wear a knit hat to keep you warm when you exercise outdoors in cold weather. Wear a baseball cap in hot weather to help keep you cool.
  • Wear sunscreen when you exercise outdoors. Cover all areas of exposed skin whenever outdoors.

Find the Right Exercise Shoe

When it comes to shoes for exercise, the choices are overwhelming. But the bottom-line is simple: Shoes should fit well and be comfortable. The right shoes offer both support and flexibility precisely where you need it. In addition, they protect your bones, joints, and muscles--from the toes to the top, keeping your feet in healthy positions and absorbing shock.

Exercise Shoe

Before you buy a new pair of running shoes, check the soles of your worn-out pair. If the outer edge of the heel is worn, your running style is to roll your feet outward. If the inner edge is worn, you roll your feet inward. Take the old pair to the store and ask a knowledgeable salesperson what kind of shoe suits your style best.

Walking shoes are the most rigid and durable. But even for walking, many people prefer running shoes. Running shoes provide plenty of cushioning, which can feel good to walkers. If you have high arches in your feet, running shoes may be better because of the extra flexibility in the front (toe) half of the shoe.

Tips for Runners

If you have low arches, look for hefty arch support and a fairly straight cut along the inside edge of the sole. If you have high arches, look for tame arch support and greater curve along the inside edge.

Running shoes are geared for heel-to-toe movement. Shoes designed for tennis and related sports offer maximum support from side-to-side. If you engage in a variety of athletic activities, you may be looking for a pair of cross-training or general purpose athletic shoes. However, some general guidelines apply to all shoe shopping.

  • Shop for shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are at maximum size. (They swell during the day). Wear the socks you normally wear with athletic shoes to assure the right fit.
  • Try on both shoes. Most people's feet vary a bit in size from each other, so you should be sure the shoes fit your largest foot comfortably.
  • Check for space at the end of your longest toe. There should be enough to let you move without pinching. Some experts recommend the length of a thumbnail.
  • If you're a woman and your feet are wide, try men's shoes. These are usually cut wider. To find a size for starters, start with your own size, and subtract two.
  • Move around in the shoes, and insist that they feel like a perfect fit right away. If they don't, keep looking.

Use the "feel" test for any high-tech gimmicks. Some may help. Some may be hype. Your feet will know! Don't shop by price alone, but do look for materials that breathe and good workmanship. Replace running shoes after 500 miles, walking shoes after 1,000 miles, and aerobics shoes after about a year of regular use.

If your cotton socks are lined with terry cloth, wear them inside out to reduce friction and help prevent blisters. Smearing petroleum jelly on your feet before running also helps. Rub it on your inner thighs to keep your legs from chafing.

If you find jogging too jarring, try walking briskly on a regular schedule, Walking briskly gives you comparable benefits. Start moderately: Walk a mile in 15 to 20 minutes five times a week. Gradually increase distance and time over the next few weeks.

Jogging Exercise Safety

  • Wear running shoes with thick, flexible soles or use shoe inserts, especially if you have flat feet or high arches. Replace shoes every 500 to 800 miles.
  • Run on a resilient surface, such as grass, wood or asphalt to prevent shin splints, an inflammation of the tissues in the front of the lower legs.
  • Strengthen the muscles in the calves and in the front and back of the thighs to prevent runners knee, a painful stiffening of the area around the kneecap.
  • Stretch the muscles and tendons in the backs of the legs to prevent Achilles tendinitis, an excruciating inflammation of the heel cord.
  • Avoid excessive running to prevent stress fractures, slight cracks that form in the ones of the foot or lower leg.

Avoid Leg Injuries

Leg Exercse Safety

When working the legs, if you have no previous problems with your knees or your back and you use proper form, commonly performed leg exercises such as those following, may be done with no concern.

General Guidelines

When doing any exercises, make sure you hold your stomach in and keep our torso stable. When extending legs, make sure not to lock your knees.

When you bend downward doing your lunges, do not bend too far forward or backward. Use no back movement at all. You also want to make sure our front knee does not go over your tow. If you go over your toe, you can put a lot of pressure on your kneecap area.

Leg Extensions
This is an exercise performed on an exercise machine. Extend your legs slowly without locking your knees. If you jerk your legs upward, you are just using momentum, not your muscles. You will not benefit from the exercise if done in that manner. Do not use too much weight on this machine, as it could be hard on the back.

Leg Press
This is an exercise performed on a machine and is excellent for the legs. It is also less strenuous on the kneecap area than the leg extension if done properly. Keep your torso stable, start low on the weight and build up progressively.

Leg Curls
When working the back of the legs, or the hamstrings, be sure you have the right piece of equipment. For example, one that is newer and keeps your back from arching. Also, be sure you are not trying to lift too much weight as this could put undue strain on your back. Keep your torso stable.

You can perform squats with free weights or on a machine. A machine can help guide your back posture, relieving it of undue stress and assuring proper form. However, with proper form and free-weights, these are great for the entire leg and should not result in any discomfort. When doing squats with free-weights, be careful not to bend or flex your back too much. Keep it stable. The hip, knee and ankle should be all that moves. You need not -- in fact, should not -- go into a deep knee bend. Also, watch your knees to be sure they do not extend in front of your toes. Think of the squat as a sitting down motion; as if you were going to sit down in a chair but decided to get back up. Keep the back straight!

When you begin doing step-ups, start with a low surface to step onto and no weights. If you decide to increase the height later, be sure you do not go so high that your knee is parallel to the ground. As in the squats, you do not want your knee to go over your toe. Always keep your back straight and upright and be sure your whole foot is on the surface onto which you are stepping. Step-ups are great for the legs at any height 4-inches or higher. If you are uncomfortable at a higher height, lower the stepping surface again. You will still gain; in addition, the when you incorporate weights you will challenge the muscles sufficiently.

Avoid Shin Splints

Shin splints is a general term referring to pain in the front of the legs, usually relating to exercise. Starting a new type of exercise, or increasing intensity too quickly, can cause this pain. The best ways to avoid them are to: 1) increase your exercise intensity level gradually, 2) wear well-fitting shoes made specifically for your type of exercise, and 3) start a lower leg stretching and strengthening program (ask a health club staff member for advice).

Aerobic Equipment

General Guidelines:   When you are using any kind of aerobic equipment, you must be sure you do not use any bars for support. Use bars only for balance, if needed. Keep your stomach held in and your chest up.

Stair Climbing Machines:  These pieces of equipment are good for leg muscles but they can be hard on the knees. If you were predisposed to knee problems, you would be better off avoiding a stair-climbing machine. Also note, you can develop a knee problem with over use of this machine.

Biking:  Biking is good for legs and good for the knees. It takes away the impact of many other exercises. While biking, be sure that when your leg is down at the bottom stroke you have a slight bend in your knee.

Elliptical Machines:  These are a good choice for working legs and are very easy on the body. They are non-impact machines yet works very well for cardiovascular benefits.

If you perform an exercise incorrectly, injury can result -- and does, all too often. Doing too much, too fast is hazardous. Not warming up and/or using improper form are the most common factors in exercise related injury.

If a specific part of your body hurts after any exercise for whatever reason, stop doing the movement and check with a trainer. If no trainer is available put ice on the injured area and if it is not better in 24 hours, call a doctor.

Back to Exercise!

Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.