Exercising regularly has wide-ranging physical, emotional and social health benefits. You need to exercise safely to remain healthy and injury-free. If it’s safe and painless, you’re more likely to stick to it! Safety is about using common sense, understanding basic techniques and listening to your body.
See your doctor for a check-up before embarking on a physical activity program. Your doctor, physiotherapist or local sporting club can offer you tips about staying safe while exercising.
Here are some tips to stay safe and injury-free:
- Be aware of your body. Think about how the particular exercise is making you feel. If something doesn’t feel right, stop immediately and seek medical advice.
- Warm up and cool down. Try slow stretches and go through the motions of your sport or activity before starting. Cool down with slow stretching.
- Pace yourself. Have at least one recovery day each week to rest. If you are experiencing pain, rest until the pain has gone.
- Mix it up. Try other sports and exercises to reduce the risk of overtraining.
- Strap or tape. If a joint is prone to injury, consider strapping or taping it before exercising. Even better, see an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist to obtain a program to strengthen the injured area and get advice on proper taping techniques.
- Stay hydrated. You can lose around one and a half litres of fluid for every hour of exercise; so drink water before, during and after a session.
- Be weather aware. Take it easier in hot weather and wear clothing and sunscreen to protect yourself from the elements.
- Do it right. Try to get the technique right from the beginning, to ensure you are using your muscles correctly.
- Check your gear. Make sure your shoes and equipment fit properly and are right for the activity. Look after your equipment and check it regularly for safety.
- Be sensible, especially at night or in secluded areas. Take a friend or your dog, stick to well-lit areas and wear bright or light-reflective clothing so drivers can see you.