Working up a sweat shouldn’t be painful or end in injury. Like many good things, even exercise can pose as a risk to one’s well-being. Exercise safety is imperative to eliminate acute and severe injuries, from high performance athletes to average gym attendees. Although injuries sometimes occur, it is no excuse to avoid exercise. After all, exercising is safer than remaining sedentary! Regular physical activity is beneficial to those battling obesity, as it improves cardiovascular health, promotes and advances preservation of weight loss, and reduces the risk of developing diabetes.

Although exercise is beneficial, it is still important to reduce the risk of complications by following simple strategies when engaging in activity.

Medical clearance is invaluable when anyone begins a new exercise routine. It is important to see a doctor in order to get the proper approval, as a physical readiness test is vital to determine if you are ready for vigorous activity. It is especially important to get medical clearance if there have been signs or symptoms of coronary artery disease. Women over the age of 55 and men over the age of 45 should get approval. Older adults are more at risk for injury than younger adults.

Appropriate exercise intensity should also be taken into consideration. Individuals new to exercise should begin initially with mild to moderate intensity, the amount of physical energy exerted. This helps eliminate safety hazards, as low intensities are commonly associated with less risks to injury. Exercisers who do not follow their individualized program and try to do too much at once will be more susceptible to common exercise injuries such as back and shoulder pain, ankle sprains, elbow injuries, or shin splints.

One of the easiest ways to prevent injury when starting an exercise routine is by stretching. Slow, sustained stretches after a workout improves flexibility. Stretching after exercise will also ease muscle soreness and lower heart rate more slowly. Many times, individuals will stretch either before or after, or not at all. Research suggests that stretching is only beneficial when finishing an exercise session because it can help to relax and balance muscle tension.

Those who have weak joints should engage in stability exercises so as not to cause more injury. These exercises target balance and will help restore function. Range of motion, flexibility, strength, and endurance will also improve. For example, lower body stability exercises may include: balancing on a Bosu ball while catching a medicine ball, balancing on one leg with eyes closed, or balancing on a wobble board while performing 10 slow, controlled half squats. These stability exercises will help strengthen and protect weak joints during physical activity. Taking safety precautions before, during, and after physical activity is imperative to avoid injuries. Seeking the advice of a medical professional, evaluating intensity levels, stretching, and strengthening weak joints are valuable strategies to follow when exercising.

By following these safety precautions, you can reap the benefits of exercise, including more energy and higher self esteem, while lowering blood pressure in a safe and effective manner.