Exercise is generally very safe. In fact it is usually much safer to move than not move. Just as with driving, there are ways to enhance safety – and awareness is the key.
So here are things to stay aware of to reduce the risks with exercise.
- Pay close attention to symptoms: Report any of these symptoms to your physician
- pain or discomfort above the waist (ie: chest, neck, jaw, arm) that comes on with physical activity and goes away with rest
- shortness of breath at rest or that wakes you from sleep.
- an increased shortness of breath with usual activities.
- dizziness or fainting
- rapid or irregular heart rate
- unusual fatigue with usual activities
- increased joint or muscle pain (beyond normal initial muscle soreness) with physical activity
- Be consistent!
- after only three days of not doing cardiovascular exercise, the body starts to forget, and loses stamina
- after about a week of no strength training the body starts to lose strength
- if you have to take time off from exercise, know that you will lose some strength and stamina
- when returning to exercise, reduce the intensity and duration of your exercise session until you gradually build back up again
- best is to maintain exercise if at all possible – something is better than nothing. Maintain with three days a week of 30 minutes of cardio and at least one day a week of strength training
- to keep the calorie burning up increase lifestyle activity as much as possible to make up for fewer calories burned during structured exercise. A pedometer is a great tool to help monitor this.
- Warm up and cool down properly:
- give the body 5-10 minutes of lighter movement to increase body temperature before exercise. Include light, short duration or dynamic stretching too.
- after exercise slow down for 5-10 minutes by doing a light activity such as walking slowly, finishing with stretching
- sudden starts and stops to exercise put strain on the cardiovascular system and increase the risks with exercise
- Progress your program gradually:
- 10% per week is what the body can adapt to. This is physiology. Pushing to hard too fast is asking the body to do what is not designed to do and something eventually breaks down.
- for example: if you are walking for 30 minutes, a 10% increase the following week would be 33 minutes. That’s it! Just three minutes more. But that is enough. Keep that up each week by increasing the intensity or duration and you will reach your goal more safely
- listen to your body – if it tells you to just maintain for a week, listen. Your body will tell you if you are doing too much too soon
- Monitor exercise intensity:
- exercise should feel comfortable or just a bit challenging for the breathing during cardiovascular exercise
- if breathing is uncomfortable the risks begin to outweigh the benefits for general health and weight loss
- Stay aware of competition:
- When we are exercising with others around, even if it is not a formal competition, we tend to push harder. This is OK if your body is ready for this push. When just starting/restarting exercise, use caution when exercising around others. Listen to your body.
- If it is challenging for you, consider staring an exercise program at home or on your own before joining others
- Take precautions in the hot and cold weather:
- I will add a blog with more detail on this soon.
- especially in the heat, since the body produces heat with exercise, the risk of heat injury is greater.
- generally stay hydrated, exercise in cooler parts of the day or in an air-conditioned environment.
- Wear proper footwear:
- this is very individualized so find what is right for your feet. It is the foundation for the rest during weight-bearing exercise. Get advice from a knowledgeable professional about footwear, one that understands you goals.
Keep Moving, Be Well,
These blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.