Making the choice to incorporate frequent exercise in your lifestyle is a truly smart move that will guarantee to reward you positively. However, exercises can be risky, especially if it has been a long time since your last exercise or if you suffer from any health ailments, or obesity, that could increase your vulnerability to injury. It is therefore crucial to know ways of keeping yourself safe as you start working out and avoid possible problems before they occur.

Safety precautions

Before heading out for a workout, it is advisable that you fill out the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) as a standard way of gauging your fitness level. This questionnaire is used by trainers, health clubs and doctors throughout the world and would usually include 6 to 7 questions. The questions can also help you shed light if you have any health issues that could possibly worsen your workout. Here are a few of the sample questions found in a PAR-Q questionnaire:

  1. Do you have any heart condition that prevents you from performing physical activities that are not recommended by your doctor?
  2. When you perform physical activities, do you experience pain in the chest region?
  3. Over the past four weeks, have you experienced chest pains even when you were not carrying out any physical activity like exercise?
  4. Do you experience loss of consciousness often or do you lose balance and become dizzy?
  5. Do you suffer from joint or bone problems that could get worsened by a modification in your regular physical activity?
  6. Are you currently on any medication for either your heart condition or blood pressure?
  7. Are you aware of any reason why you cannot do a regular workout?

Once you have answered these questions with either yes or a no, you can now move forward to the next safety tip of choosing the correct gear.

The right gear

Many setbacks and injuries occur during exercise since people do not take sufficient time to get the proper equipment for their workout. The following steps will help you use the proper gear for the right workout.

  • Wear fitting shoes that can provide the proper support for your body type and activity.
  • Wear proper exercise clothing
  • Wear protective gear like helmets for cycling, elbow and knee pads for skating, hats for outside workouts and reflective clothing for evening workouts.
  • Avoid wrist and ankle weights if you are a fitness newbie.

Start slow

According to health experts, a fitness newbie should not just jump in and start working out 5 days per week as that is likely to harm your body. It is better to slowly work up towards exercising for a few days a week as you gauge how your body is responding. Similarly, start with light weights then build up to heavier weights when you are working out  at the gym.

Assess your fitness level

Most people know how fit they are. However, evaluating and recording your fitness scores provide a benchmark that you can use to track your progress. Consider recording the following to evaluate your body composition, muscular and aerobic fitness and flexibility:

  • Your heartbeat rate after walking for one mile
  • The time it takes you to finish a one mile walk
  • The number of pushups you can perform comfortably
  • Your BMI (Body Mass Index)
  • Your waist circumference

Your beginner workout routine

There is good news for fitness newbies who want to start working out without necessarily following the  exercise routine of a marine to get into shape. The following are some key facts you should know:

  • Frequent exercise performed moderately can be quite effective in enhancing and sustaining a healthy level of fitness
  • Cycling, swimming, running, walking or carrying out sustained aerobic exercises 4 times per week at a reasonable intensity for half an hour will assist you towards attaining all your fitness objectives.
  • The American Council on Exercise recommends that during 3 sessions of 20 minutes each, you must workout at forceful intensity

Know when to stretch

Even though stretching right before you start a workout might seem like a beneficial activity, you should take caution to prevent risk of injuring yourself. After warming up, you must stretch your body and hold the stretched positions for about 20 seconds. You are not likely to get injured where you are stretching if you have already warmed up your muscles.

When to Stop: Warning Signs

Experiencing some kind of discomfort when you exercise is inevitable because you are essentially challenging yourself to do a lot more than you are used to. Hence, you should anticipate soreness in your muscles following a vigorous exercise session, particularly with weight lifting. However, pain that occurs during a workout can be an indication that there is a problem. You must stop working out immediately if you:

  • Feel sick or dizzy
  • Have pressure or pain in the middle or left part of your chest
  • Experience muscle cramps
  • Notice that you have an irregular or racing heartbeat
  • Feel piercing pain in the joints, bones or ankles.

What if Warning Signs Persists

If you experience these problems while performing high intensity exercises, it is advisable to slow down immediately. Allow your heart rate  to drop slowly before finally stopping completely, because a sudden stop can lead to problems like fainting. Nevertheless, if you experience sudden and severe pain, stop instantly and seek help.

Running is a Great Workout for Beginners

Running is the easiest and most effective workout that fitness newbies can start with. Whether running on treadmills or outdoors, here are some tips to assist you:

  • Get comfortable running shoes.
  • Alternate your runs with long walks, increasing the time of your runs as you get stronger.
  • If running outdoors, face oncoming traffic and avoid secluded and dark areas.
  • Increase the duration of your running exercise by 10% every week.

Know When to Take a Break

Fitness newbies are known for being overzealous and would normally try working out almost every day. Nonetheless, by not allowing your body sufficient rest, you are actually harming your body and not gaining anything from your workout. If you allow your body enough time to repair and recover from each workout, your strength and performance will greatly improve.

Cool down

An abrupt stop in your exercise can cause your blood pressure to drop and you might feel very dizzy. After a long run, slow down to a jog for five minutes to help you cool down. Similarly, after lifting, try performing some stretches like yoga poses and lunges. This will help bring down your heart rate to a calmer state.

Stretch

After intense cardio or strength training, the muscles are very warmed up, which makes them more pliable and elastic. While stretching may not necessarily reduce the risk of injuries, it can reduce soreness in calves, quads and hamstrings. Stretching also helps to maintain circulation in important areas and accelerates healing in muscles after a workout. Generally, you are required to stretch every major muscle group with 4 repetitions at one minute each.

Hydrate

Each time you engage in a strenuous physical activity you expend water from the body. Following an intense exercise, you must replenish your water supply. This helps increase flexibility and strength while reducing muscle soreness. The weight that you lose during a workout is normally water weight. Hence, you must drink that specific weight in fluids, plus an additional 50% to compensate for what you will lose in urine.

Get a massage

Getting a massage can enhance muscle recovery by about 50% and is guaranteed to reduce muscle damage and swelling. Fitness experts agree that massages help break up adhesions and knots. Any action you can perform to ensure your muscles remain aligned is an advantageous thing. Just ensure that you do not apply too much pressure on the muscles, as it may harm the already susceptible muscle.

For fitness newbies, fitness experts suggest 4 workouts per week at 30 minutes per session. Allow two days between each resistance and weight training workouts so as to provide your muscles sufficient healing time. Ensure you also make gradual progression to avoid overloading your body.