Be Well: Exercise Safety

Man assisting woman lifting weights at gym.

When people think of exercising safely, most likely they think of using proper form or being careful not to do too much too quickly. Certainly, these are examples of exercise safety, but there are others, too.

Proper attire is a key component to safe exercise. You want to be sure that you are dressed appropriately for the weather. If you are running in the summertime, for example, it is important to wear clothing that will keep you cool and be made of wicking material so sweat can evaporate. On the flip side, if you are cross-country skiing in winter, you want to be sure you are dressed warmly enough. In particular, you want to cover your head, ears and extremities (hands and feet). During cold weather, blood flow is concentrated in your body’s core to keep your internal organs warm, which leaves your head, hands and feet susceptible to the cold. Thick socks (or just an extra pair), gloves, a hat, a scarf and/or earmuffs are key to a safe, outdoor, winter workout. Footwear is also part of proper exercise attire. Running shoes for a running workout, boots or sturdy walking shoes for trail hikes and shoes with completely flat soles for a squat workout are all examples of appropriate footwear.

Being aware of your surroundings is also important. Whether you are exercising indoors or outdoors, you want to pay attention to what is going on around you. When you are in the gym, keep an eye on other gym patrons to help you prevent potential injury. This can mean steering clear of a machine someone is using or avoiding walking too close to someone who is lifting a large amount of weight. When you are exercising outdoors, it’s important to pay attention to traffic and obey all road signs and signals. If you are hiking on a trail, watch for things like rocks, sticks or uneven terrain.

Use the buddy system. It is a great idea to team up with a partner for any outdoor activities. An extra set of eyes watching your surroundings is beneficial, plus, in the event of an injury, there’s someone there to assist you or go for help if need be. If you want to exercise solo, you should always let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to return. That way, in the event that there’s an emergency, your family and/or friends will know where to look for you. If possible, take your cell phone along so you can call for help, just in case. The buddy system is a good idea when you are exercising in the gym as well. A training partner can watch your form and be your spotter when you are strength-training. They can also remind you to hydrate or take a few minutes to rest when necessary.

Having a personal trainer is also a great way to be safe in the gym. Not only will they watch your form to ensure you are doing each exercise correctly, they can also make sure you are increasing your exercise intensity in the safest way possible, with the least amount of injury risk. They also serve as great motivators, keeping you on track to success.

Safety is an important part of any exercise program. Keep these ideas in mind during your future workouts.

Be Well Tips
• Wear proper attire.
• Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
• Use the buddy system.
• Hire a personal trainer.
• Consult a physician before beginning any exercise program.