Important ways to keep safe while exercising

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Stretching before exercise

Before you begin the hard exercise, your body needs time to prepare. To help prevent injuries, begin your exercise by doing a warm-up. A warm-up is a set of exercise that prepares your muscles—including your heart—to work hard. A warm-up would include activities that stretch your muscles. Your warm-up also should include a slow version of the main activity you plan to do, such as jogging or swimming. This helps prepare your heart for harder exercise. Altogether, your warm-up should last at least five minutes. After a warm-up, your body is more prepared to exercise hard without harming the muscles, joints, or heart.

After you exercise, do a cool-down. A cool-down includes slow exercises that allow your heart rate to return to normal. Finish your main activity at a slower pace. Then stretch for a bit. You can do the same stretches you did for the warm-up. The cool-down should last five to ten minutes. Like a warm-up, a cool-down helps prevent harm to your muscles, joints, and heart. Doing a warm-up and a cool-down is an important way to keep safe while exercising.

Another important way to stay safe is to wear proper clothing when you exercise. Wear loose, comfortable clothes that allow you to move easily. Your clothes should be made of cotton or other fabric that lets air flow easily through it. This kind of fabric allows sweat to evaporate so that you don’t get too hot. In cold weather, wear layers of clothing. As your body gets warm, take off one or more layers.

Wear shoes that cushion your heels and support your ankles. Make sure they fit well, give you proper traction, and protect your feet. This will help prevent injuries. Always wear all the protective gear that is made for your activity. For example, wear a helmet if you will be skating or biking. Wear shin guards and mouth guards for soccer. Wear wrist guards and knee and elbow pads when they are needed.

To help prevent falls, scrapes, and sprains, avoid running on hard, rough surfaces. Also, make sure you can see well. Check with specialists before you use any fitness machines or other exercise equipment. Gym specialists can help you use these machines safely and adjust them for your size.

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