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Wellness Corner: Exercise and Safety

Regular exercise and physical activity are important in maintaining a healthy body. Exercise and physical activity are two different things, but both involve movements. Exercise involves all physical activities that are planned, structured and repetitive, like weight training; aerobics; playing badminton; and basketball, while physical activities include all other activities not considered as an exercise, like: walking; raking leaves; gardening; and doing household chores, among others.

Despite the many positive benefits of exercise and physical activities, such as decreasing blood pressure, improving metabolism, increasing strength, and balance, and increasing bone density, it is important that before one engages in exercise or physical activities, they take into consideration, safety precautions.

Before engaging in any physical activities or exercise, individuals, particularly older adults, should undergo screening for a potential medical problem. People who feel dizzy or experience shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, have joint swelling, or experiencing skipping or fluttering heart should get medical certification before doing any physical activities or exercise.

After securing clearance from their doctors, but before going into exercise, it is important to consider the following: drinking of water in short bouts before, during and after the exercise; start slowly, and gradually increasing the intensity or duration of exercise, and avoid exercising under the sun. If possible, wear light-colored clothing and/or apply sunscreen and/or wear cap or visor to protect the eyes from the heat. Wearing comfortable footwear and protective braces or paddings; like knee and ankle support are advised for those who have chronic injuries, especially in the knee or ankle.  

For those who have health problems, exercise only with a partner or companion. Never exercise alone. If you feel dizzy while exercising, sit and place the head in between legs and continue controlled breathing. If you feel like falling down, lay on your back with your feet elevated. This will increase the flow of blood to the brain.

While exercising or doing any physical activities, it is equally important to pay attention to the following symptoms and signs: feeling tired or feeling severe discomfort; light-headedness or feeling nausea; and or feeling pain in the joints, while walking or performing the exercise or physical activities. If you feel any of these, stop or discontinue doing the activities. Most injury is caused by repetitive training or over-exercise, and the only way to stop the pain is to rest and allow the body to heal.

Make sure to have a rest in between exercises. If you wish to exercise three times a week, make sure to have a rest in between days. If you have an injury or if you feel pain when performing the exercise or physical activities, immediately stop and rest the injury, and if the pain persists, visit your doctor. The body only heals and recovers when it is resting. So, it is important to give the body enough time to rest. After exercising or doing physical activities, make sure that you still have enough energy to do personal things. If you have no more energy to do other things after physical activity, it is a sign of over-training.

Finally, make sure to perform warm-up and stretching exercises before actually engaging in strenuous activities, and after each session, end with a cool-down exercise. To hasten recovery, drink plenty of water, eat protein-rich food, and take a cold shower. Protein helps build and repair tissues.

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References:

1. Six tips for safe stretches: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/six-tips-for-safe-stretches
2. Exercise safety tips: http://ergo-plus.com/wp-content/uploads/Exercise-Safety-Tips-v2.pdf
3. Exercise & physical activity: https://order.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2018-04/nia-exercise-guide.pdf
4. Safe exercise: https://learning.gaa.ie/sites/default/files/Gudielines%20for%20Safe%20Exercise_0.pdf
5. Exercise safety guidelines: https://www.acgov.org/wellness/documents/ExerciseSafetyHandout.pdf
6. Safe exercise prescription for children and adolescents: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/43183815_Safe_exercise_prescription_for_children_and_adolescents
7. Exercise for older adults: http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/dmh/216745_ExerciseforOlderAdultsHealthCareProviderManual.pdf


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