Workout Safety 101: Stay Fit, Stay Safe

By Cole Purvis

Engaging in regular exercise is a fantastic way to maintain fitness and overall well-being. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), routine physical activity can help strengthen our bones and muscles, reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease and lead to a longer, more vital life. However, there are some potential risks and hazards involved in our fitness journey that can have adverse effects on our health.

According to a compilation of injury statistics published by the National Safety Council, over 400,000 exercise and exercise equipment injuries occurred in 2021. With this in mind, it is crucial to prioritize caution and safe practices during exercise to help prevent unwanted injuries and setbacks.

The Safety of Spotting

Weightlifting is a tried-and-true form of physical exercise that can yield impressive results, but danger is always present when maneuvering large, heavy weights. That is why having a spotter nearby is so important. Spotting refers to the assistance provided to someone during a weightlifting exercise to ensure their safety. A spotter can offer support, provide physical assistance and prevent accidents when risks arise. It is essential to have a spotter when attempting challenging lifts, like bench presses or squats.

Partner Up for Outdoor Runs

Running alone can be peaceful, but it can also increase vulnerability to unforeseen risks. Women, in particular, often experience feelings of fear or anxiety when running alone. A 2017 survey from Runner’s World reported that 43% of women experienced some type of harassment while running, compared to 4% of men. In another Runner’s World survey two years later, 67% of women stated that they were sometimes afraid to run due to the fear of being attacked.

Whenever possible, opt for running with a buddy or group. Not only does this enhance safety by providing companionship, but it also ensures prompt assistance in case of an injury or other unexpected incidents. If running solo is unavoidable, make sure to inform someone about your route and estimated return time. That way, they will have an idea of when something is not right and where they can go to find you.

Avoid Overloading

It is often tempting to push yourself and test the limits of your strength, but training beyond your physical capacity can lead to serious injuries. Gradually progressing weight and intensity in our workouts allows our body to adapt and build strength.

Overloading ourselves, conversely, can strain muscles, joints and connective tissues. This increases the risk of sprains, strains and other musculoskeletal issues, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Listen to your body’s cues and respect its limits.

The Right Shoes Make a Difference

Choosing the appropriate footwear for your workout activities is an often overlooked but crucial part of
injury prevention. Investing in athletic shoes specifically designed for your chosen exercise, whether it’s running, weightlifting or cross-training, can make all the difference. According to the Mayo Clinic, proper shoes provide adequate support, cushioning and stability that reduce the risk of slips, falls and foot-related problems, like shin splints or plantar fasciitis.

Equipment Usage 101

Using gym equipment correctly and for its intended use is essential to avoid accidents and maximize its effectiveness. Be sure to read instruction manuals or seek guidance from experienced gym goers to understand how each piece of equipment should be used. Attempts to modify or improvise exercises beyond their intended use can lead to strains, sprains or even more severe injuries.

Beat the Heat and Stay Hydrated

Exercising in hot weather can put you at risk of heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion or heatstroke. To stay safe, choose cooler parts of the day for outdoor activities, wear lightweight and breathable clothing and remember to protect yourself with sunscreen. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, regular daily use of only SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, by 50%. Furthermore, always remember to stay hydrated before, during and after workouts, as dehydration can impair physical performance and increase the chances of injuries, according to Piedmont Orthopedics.

Don’t Fall for TikTok Trends

Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are full of exciting workout challenges and trends. While some may be harmless, others can be potentially dangerous if attempted without proper knowledge or supervision. Be cautious and skeptical of viral fitness trends, especially those that seem extreme or involve risky movements. Prioritize health over hashtags.

Prioritizing workout safety is crucial for a successful and injury-free fitness journey. By following these essential tips, you can maximize the benefits of your workouts while minimizing the risks involved. Remember, a safe and mindful approach to exercise will aid you in your long-term fitness journey.


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