Being more physically active can help you feel better, deal with stress more easily, and handle day-to-day activities more comfortably. Before you start a fitness program, here are some things to do to help make sure you're exercising safely.
Fill out a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) to see if you need a medical exam. If you need one, meet with your doctor. Find out how physical activity will affect your medical condition and prescriptions. Ask your doctor or qualified exercise professional which activities are best for you.
Use equipment that fits you properly, is sturdy and not broken or worn out.
Use equipment that's designed for safety. For example, if you're planning to bike, run or walk at night, use lights or wear a reflective vest.
Include a proper warm-up and cool-down with your activity.
Listen to your body and adjust your activity. Stop if you're feeling especially tired or if you feel pain or extreme discomfort.
It's common to be tired when you're more active, and this is when injuries can happen. To avoid injury, gradually build up how often you're active, your level of effort and the length of time you exercise.
Drink fluids before, during and after activity to avoid dehydration.
Breathe normally during resistance exercises.
Use a steady speed when you're doing resistance exercises. Always use proper techniques and only use a range of motion that is pain-free.
Do a light activity one day, then a heavy activity the next. Or use one group of muscles one day and another group the next day. This gives your body plenty of time to recover, repair and rebuild.
Check with a qualified exercise professional to make sure you're using proper form for physical activities. This prevents injuries by reducing stress on muscles, ligaments and joints.
Dress properly for the seasons and weather conditions to avoid overheating in the summer and being too cold in the winter. Wear rain gear, sunscreen and a hat when needed.
If you're running, choose a soft surface like grass or a wood chip trail, instead of pavement. This helps avoid injuries.
Do activities with a friend, family member or group. If you're by yourself, tell a friend or family member the route you're taking and how long you plan to be gone.
You can prevent injuries by doing moderate exercises on a regular basis. This is much safer than trying to squeeze very strenuous activities only into your weekends.
Stay active year-round. For instance, do gardening in the spring and snow shoveling in winter. This helps avoid injuries that can happen when your body hasn't been active for a while.