9 Gym Safety Tips

Smart Workout Gym
Smart Workout Gym. Wendy Bumgardner © 2012

We workout to improve our health, but we need to be aware of risks and preventable accidents that lurk at the gym.

Get a Yearly Health Check-Up

Most gyms and exercise programs will request or require that you get a check-up to ensure you don't have a health problem that could be made worse by certain types of exercise. But medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can sneak up even for active people, so don't skip your yearly check-up.

Discuss your fitness plans with your doctor, especially if you have a preexisting condition or are on medications. Most often your doctor will applaud your decision to get more active, but may have some restrictions or cautions if you have certain health problems or risks.

Don't Skip the Warm-up and Cool-Down

Research on warm-ups and stretching has shown the warm-up to be the most important factor in preventing injury. As part of your cardio exercise session, start out at an easy pace and light exertion for 3 to 5 minutes before increasing your exertion to your target level. Take another couple of minutes to cool down at a lower exertion level after your main session. For strength training and other exercise activities, 3 to 5 minutes of walking on a treadmill or walking in place will help get the blood flowing to your muscles so you will be able to perform better.
Warm-ups vs. Stretching Research

Make Gradual Increases in Your Training

Your body will experience a great training effect if you increase your time or intensity or reps of an exercise gradually. For strength training, start with lighter weights and increase the reps and sets before you increase the weights. For cardio exercise, increase the time and work on your form before increasing your speed and exertion level.

Use Good Technique

How you do the exercise is critically important both for getting good results and preventing injury. If you are lifting weights in a way that strains your lower back, eventually you will feel the strain. If you use bad posture and overstride on the treadmill, you will get aches and pains and overuse injuries. Working on core stability, positioning, and posture will help prevent injuries and sore muscles. Use a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to ensure you are doing the moves correctly.

Keep the Gym Clean and Neat

One of the biggest risks of a gym accident is tripping over something left lying around. Clear the area of objects you may stumble over during your moves. Clean the equipment after you use it to prevent sharing colds and flu. Most gyms have disinfectant available for wiping down equipment.

Gym Equipment and Machine Safety

Treadmills, exercise bikes, and weight machines all have moving parts and the risk of pinching and crushing your fingers and toes if you aren't paying attention.

This is why most gyms do not allow children (no matter how well-supervised) in the workout area. Make sure pins and collars are used properly on weight machines and barbells. Be aware of who is working out around you, what motions they are using, and stay out of their way.

As with hiking alone in the wilderness, it is not a good idea to workout alone in a gym. You should always have a friend or staff available in case of an injury or health emergency.

Spotters for Lifting Weights

Many gyms require that those lifting weights have a spotter readily available. This is especially common for those lifting barbells who may drop the weight on themselves when they try to lift one time too many.

Workout Partners in the Gym

Working out with a partner can give you two sets of eyes on any problems that may develop. Encourage each other to drink, breathe fully and correctly, and clear the workout area of obstacles. Be each others' safety buddy as well as workout buddy.

Personal Trainer in the Gym

A personal trainer can be the best safety accessory of all. A trainer will watch your form to ensure you are doing the exercise correctly and not straining your lower back or problem joints. A trainer will increase your exercise duration and intensity in a step-wise fashion that will give you the best training effect with the least risk of injury. A trainer will also act as a spotter during weight lifting.
How to Choose a Personal Trainer

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