Keeping fit is important, but it’s not always easy. Exercise, especially if you’re not a seasoned gym bunny, has risks, and it’s well worth your time to understand and avoid those risks if you don’t want to suffer an injury that could set back your new commitment to fitness by weeks or months.
Today we’re taking a look at some of the risks attached to exercise – whether they could cause just discomfort or actual injury – and some of the ways to minimise that risk.
When you push your body hard during a session at the gym, you lose water. You sweat, you breathe more heavily, and this all depletes your body’s water reserves. As you become dehydrated you experience more and more serious symptoms, including headaches, confusion, mental fog, muscle aches, and even unconsciousness! If you’re working out hard on a hot day you can get locked into a feedback of loop of deepening dehydration, as your body tries to cool down with less and less efficiency as it expends its water reserves.
It’s worth asking ‘what can I use to rehydrate myself?’ as well ‘how can I test for dehydration?’ so you can spot the problem early and solve it quickly. As you get dehydrated there are lots of signs to look out for: you’ll feel thirsty; you’ll urinate less often, and it will be darker in colour and stronger in smell; your skin will get more slack. This can be the biggest indicator. Give the skin on the back of your hand a pinch: if it takes longer than usual to snap back into shape, you need to rehydrate.
Using an isotonic sports drink or dedicated rehydration product replenished not just your fluid levels but also all the vitamins and minerals you lost in your sweat too, getting you back to peak efficiency sooner!
Sprains and Strains
One of the most omnipresent risks to an athlete, whether they’re an amateur or an olympian is muscle sprains and strains. These can be minor – little more than an inconvenience, or a major risk to your health and well being! Even a minor strain can disrupt your exercise routine, and put you off coming back to it, so they are to be avoided if at all possible!
There are several things you can do to help minimise the risk of overstraining your muscles. Shopping around for the right shoes is a good way to begin: fit the footwear to the activity: gym shoes and running shoes offer different kinds of support for your body, and it’s worth getting the right ones for the exercise you’re planning.
You can also help by ensuring you warm up and warm down at the beginning end of your work out, whether it’s a run, a swim, or a session in the gym. Focus on the muscle groups you know you’ll be using: warming up stretches them out, getting them ready for the intensity of a workout, while warming down helps your body return to a state of rest.