As Spring brings warmer weather you may be motivated to get moving outdoors. But before you do, consider these tips to ensure safe and enjoyable exercise. Now is a good time to schedule an appointment with your physician for a physical, especially if you have been inactive or sporadic with your exercise over the winter or have not had a recent check-up. Your physician will be able to identify medical conditions that may make exercise unsafe until they are controlled or resolved.
If it is safe for you to exercise, but you were relatively inactive during the last few months, you will want to start back slowly. This will reduce the risk of musculoskeletal discomfort and/or injuries. Once you have developed a solid fitness base, you can start to increase the duration, intensity, and frequency of your workouts to meet your goals. It is recommended that you start by increasing your duration first by 5 to 10 minutes per session every 1 to 2 weeks. Do not increase duration and intensity in the same session. To ensure safety while progressing your workload, do not exceed a 10% increase in total training volume in any given week.
Other safety tips to consider as you "Spring" into shape are listed below.
- Wear a helmet, regardless of the length of your bike trip. Your helmet should sit on top of your head, not tipped to the back. As a general rule of thumb, there should be about a 2 fingers-width between the front of your helmet and your eyebrows.
- Obey traffic rules and ride in a straight line. Do not weave in and out of cars.
- Ride with the flow of traffic (to the right).
- Signal your turns. To signal a left turn your shoulder should be extended to the side with your arm out straight. To signal a right turn your shoulder should be extended to the side with your elbow bent at a 90 degree angle and hand pointed up toward the sky. To signal a stop your shoulder should be extended to the side with your elbow bent at a 90 degree angle and your hand pointing toward the ground. To view pictures of proper hand signals visit www.state.il.us/KIDS/isp/bikes/tips/default.htm.
- Ride on the shoulder of the road or designated bike route. Try to avoid riding on the sidewalk. Motorists are not expecting you and you risk a vehicle/bike collision at intersections and driveways.
- Use headlights, twilights, and reflectors if bicycling in the dark
If walking, running, rollerblading:
- Exercise against the flow traffic. This allows you to see vehicles coming your way.
- Cross the road at intersections and/or designated cross walks.
General Safety Tips:
- If exercising alone let someone know where you will be going and when to expect your return.
- Wear brightly colored clothes so that motorists can easily see you.
- Check the weather forecast and dress appropriately. Wearing layers is best. Extra garments may be removed and wrapped around your waist if needed.
- If exercising in the dark wear reflective gear and use a flashlight.
- It is best not to wear headphones, but if you choose to do so set the volume so that you can still hear what is happening in the surrounding environment.
- Maintain adequate hydration. Weigh yourself both prior to and after exercise to determine the amount of water lost from exercise. Drink about 17 ounces of fluid 2 hours prior to exercise. Bring a water bottle with you to replace fluids while exercising. After exercise, drink about 1 pint of fluids for each pound of body weight lost.
Following these guidelines will allow for safer exercise and greater enjoyment as you embrace the return of warmer weather over the next several months.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th edition
ACSM Fitness Book a proven step-by-step program from the experts
Labels: ACSM, bicycling, exercise safety, hydration, National Center for Injury Protection and Control, running, walking