Before You Begin

You want to exercise, but you are unsure where to start. Safe and beneficial exercise requires work and consistency, but it also necessitates the right equipment and appropriate outerwear. People exercise at varying levels, and it is pertinent to do what is right for your own body. This site provides some basic, general tips to keep in mind when starting your exercise program. Before starting, you may want to evaluate your readiness exercise by answering some questions from the PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire). It is the gold standard in fitness safety and is utilized by doctors and trainers around the world. If you are hesitant about your ability to exercise, you can use these questions as a guideline. Answer yes or no to the following questions to help you evaluate whether or not you should start:

  • Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart condition and that you should only do physical activity recommended by a doctor?
  • Do you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity?
  • In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?
  • Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?
  • Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?
  • Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs (for example, water pills) for your blood pressure or heart condition?
  • Do you know of any other reason why you should not do physical activity?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is important that you check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to begin an exercise routine. If you answered no, begin by reviewing the safety tips on this site to prevent injury while you are exercising.

Health Disclaimer

The Go Site provides fitness, health, and wellness management and information applications and content published over the Internet and is intended only to assist users in their personal wellness efforts. The Go is not a medical organization and our staff cannot give you medical advice or diagnosis. Nothing contained in this website should be construed as such advice or diagnosis. The information and reports generated by us should not be interpreted as a substitute for physician consultation, evaluation, or treatment.

You are urged and advised to seek the advice of a physician before beginning any weight loss effort, fitness or wellness regimen. This website is intended for use only by healthy adult individuals. The website is not intended for use by minors, pregnant women, or individuals with any type of health condition. Such individuals are specifically warned to seek professional medical advice prior to initiating any form of weight loss effort or regimen.

Precautions and Progressions

Once you have decided that you are ready to begin an exercise routine, consider some of

these precautions before you start. It is important to begin your exercise with a warm up and end your exercise with a cool down. Starting your work out with 5-10 minutes of light exercise such as walking will increase your body temperature and warm your muscles, easing them into the high level requirements of your work out. By starting slowly and building your endurance, you ensure a safe increase in your heart rate without exerting too much force and strain on your muscles. Ending your exercise with a 5-10 minute cool down and stretch will decrease your heart rate and cool your muscles at a safe pace, limiting the chance of dizziness or pulling a muscle.

Always stay hydrated throughout your exercise routine and avoid exercising in extreme heat. Your body will lose water during your exercise regimen, and it is important to replenish that supply to keep your cells hydrated and your body energized. Drinking water during and after your fitness routine will also eliminate toxins that your body releases during your workout.

Moreover, as you continue your exercises over time, avoid increasing your weight, time, repetitions, speed, and distance by more than 10% of your previous exercise. This will help prevent injury. If you ever feel dizzy or nauseated during your exercise, stop immediately and check with your physician before continuing the program.

Warning Signs to Stop

It is typical to feel some discomfort during your exercise routine in order to see results. Soreness for a few days following your work out is normal. However, pain should not be overlooked, and there are several warning signs that may indicate the need to stop exercising immediately. These include:

  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sharp pain in your joints or bones
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Breaking out into a cold sweat
  • Pressure in the left side of your chest

Should you experience any of these symptoms during an intense work out, cool down to avoid fainting. Seek immediate medical attention if you undergo severe, acute pain.

How to Choose a Gym and a Personal Trainer

When seeking out a place to exercise and a trainer to guide you, keep the following ideas in mind:

  • Location, location, location. Having your gym located close to your home or work is a good way to stay consistent in your exercise routine.
  • Make sure that the trainers at your gym are qualified to help you. They should be certified and trained properly.
  • Inform your trainer or instructor of any past injuries or limitations that you may have when exercising. With this knowledge, your trainer may be able to suggest modifications for you to prevent subsequent problems.
  • Ask questions about any directions that you do not understand. Accurate knowledge of instruction and technique will benefit you in the long run and aid in injury prevention.

Safety Tips for Weight Training:

Strength training is a pertinent addition to cardio exercise and will help vary up your fitness routine. By increasing the amount of muscle in your body, you will decrease your body’s fat percentage and prevent osteoporosis. These are some important tips to think about before you begin:

  • Lift and lower the weights slowly. By avoiding jerky movements, you will be less likely to tense your muscles.
  • Alternate muscle groups. This will prevent overexertion on the same muscles.
  • Continue to breathe rhythmically while lifting. Holding your breath will decrease oxygen flow in your blood and may cause you to feel lightheaded or dizzy.
  • Do not lock your joints when lifting weights. Locking joints can put unneeded stress in those areas, causing pain and possibly injury.
  • While you are standing up, bend your knees slightly to prevent unnecessary stress on your lower back. Always bend your knees when picking up weights or putting them down.
  • For leg exercises, your knees should bend and align with your ankles. They should never go forward past your toes.
  • Having a spotter present can prevent injury, especially with heavy weight lifting and free weight exercises.
  • As a courtesy to others, re-rack your weights so that others can find the appropriate weights and do not trip over them.

Safety Tips for Cardio Training:

In addition to weight training, cardio training is important for a complete fitness regimen. Here are some tips for cardio work outs:

  • Make sure you have shoes that fit well and are appropriate for high-exertion exercise
  • Shoes should be replaced every 6 months or every 400-500 miles to ensure proper cushioning and shock-absorption.
  • Your clothing should be exercise and weather appropriate. During warm weather, wear clothes that are loose and light colored (if outside) to keep you cool and prevent heat exhaustion. Dress in layers for cold weather activities.
  • Provide your body with a variety of cardiovascular workouts. Avoiding the same exercise every day will guarantee results, while reducing injury.

Safety Tips for Stretching:

Consider stretching before and after your work out. Stretching after you warm up can increase flexibility and help you move easier during your work out. Do not bounce when stretching, but instead lengthen your muscles and hold the stretch for 12-15 seconds. You should feel some discomfort, but not pain. Waiting until after your warm up to stretch prevents strain and the chance of tearing a muscle. Stretching is also recommended after a cool down to continue relaxing and cooling your muscles after your fitness routine.