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Tips for Exercising Safely

You may believe that starting a new fitness regiment is a no-brainer; after all, it's just about getting up and starting it, right? Well, the short answer to the question is no. 

Starting a new fitness program or routine is so much more than purchasing the right shoes or putting on a cute sweat-wicking outfit- it's actually pretty stressful to your body if you don't ease into it. Here are a few tips you can follow to avoid injuries and begin to start exercising safely. Remember to always consult with your trusted healthcare provider when embarking on a new fitness routine to ensure that you are physically healthy enough to do the activity you are planning to start.  

1. Take a few minutes to warm up and cool down during each workout.
You might think warming up and cooling down is a waste of valuable workout time, but it's truly not! Warming up before exercise prepares your cardiovascular system for physical activity by increasing the blood flow to your muscles and raising your body's temperature. When your muscles are properly warmed up, you're less likely to get injured. Just as important as the warm-up is the cooldown, so don't skip that either! Cooling down after your workout gradually brings your heart rate and blood pressure to the level it was before you started working out. During your workout, your heart rate has been pumping much higher than it does normally, and it’s important to lower it back down instead of abruptly stopping, as that can make you dizzy, weak, faint, and nauseous. 

2. Start slowly and build up your fitness level.
You may be chomping at the bit to get in shape and may even feel like you're capable of going all out right away. While your mind may be ready, but your body didn't get the memo. Rome wasn't built overnight, so take it one step at a time and take it slow. If you hit it too hard on the first day, not only are you more likely to seriously injure yourself, you're going to be extremely sore, which will discourage you from continuing your fitness journey. 


3. Mix up your workout to prevent overuse. 
Maybe you just discovered you love swimming lap after lap or breaking it down on the dance floor at a Zumba class every day. While it's great you've discovered a workout you really love, you need to keep in mind that you should really mix up your workout to avoid overuse injuries. Certain parts of your body are more prone to overuse injuries (i.e.- the shoulders, ankles, knees, feet, and elbows), so make sure you're adding different types of workouts in your routine and add in plenty of rest days.


4. Choose the right shoes for your workout. 
It's vital to pick the right footwear to avoid knee and joint pain. Depending on your type of workout, choosing the right shoe can help you avoid multiple workout-related injuries. For example, if you play high-impact sports, a shoe that minimizes the impact of your step would be the right shoe for you! 
Besides injuries like ankle sprains or fractures, improper footwear can cause hammertoes and corns to develop from malalignment and friction in a too-small shoe. 

5. Be mindful when working out in extreme weather conditions.
When the weather starts getting really hot or really cold, you need to be mindful of working out outside. Exercising intensely in hot, humid conditions can lead to serious overheating and dehydration. Make sure that you slow your pace when the temperature rises above 70°F. On days when the thermometer is expected to reach 80°F, exercise during cooler morning or evening hours or at an air-conditioned gym or studio space. Watch for signs of overheating, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, faintness, cramps, or palpitations, as these can be signs of a heat-related illness. Alternatively, when the weather is frigid, make sure you wear warm clothes, preferably in layers you can strip off as your body temperature increased during your workout. Wearing earmuffs, toboggans, and gloves are a good idea when it's extremely cold to prevent hypothermia from occurring. 

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