7 of the Best Workout Safety Tips for Your Home or Gym
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Avena
It’s a New Year and you may be one of the many people who are motivated to make positive changes in their physical health, including adopting an exercise regimen or taking your existing routine to the next level.
Gym memberships typically skyrocket this time of year; many memberships are given as gifts during the holidays. But some people prefer not to go to a gym and have established an at-home workout routine instead.
So, what are the pros/cons of working out in a home, office, or local gym?
During the colder months, when many outdoor sports are no longer a viable option, many head to the gym to stay in shape. However, there are several drawbacks to purchasing a gym membership.
Aside from the package price, there are gas expenses to consider, and the time required to drive to and from the gym, which can be a deterrent if the weather gets nasty. Despite solid goals and good intentions, consistent gym attendance can be a challenge throughout the year, and especially during the winter season.
To enjoy the benefits of the gym without having to go to the gym, many people invest in home fitness equipment. The upside is that you can use the equipment whenever you want, and don’t have to worry about wiping down an apparatus before using it.
The downside is that starting a home gym can be expensive. Plus, if anything breaks, it’s up to you to replace it. Also, many who own a home gym may find their workout equipment to be inferior in quality or limited in variety when compared to what’s available at a local gym.
If you decide to invest in home gym equipment, you can start small with dumbbells and work your way up to a stair climber, stationary bike, bench press, or treadmill.
Why invest in gym equipment when there are plenty of exercises you can do at work or home for free? Depending on how much room you have in your business office or home office, you can do basic exercises like push-ups, sit-ups (crunches), lunges, or leg lifts. Also, there’s a whole regimen of exercises you can do with a sturdy chair.
All of that’s great for strength training, but what about cardio? There are plenty of standbys like skipping rope or doing jumping jacks. You also can do high knees, side to side punches, sumo squat jumps, or the ever-dependable running in place.
Regardless of which type of gym you choose, here are some top workout safety tips for the home, office, or local gym…
7 of the Best Workout Safety Tips for Your Home, Office, or Local Gym
- Always Observe Safety Guidelines
Any responsible gym will have a posted list of workout safety tips and procedures somewhere inside the gym and on their website. Be sure to thoroughly read and adhere to these guidelines.
It’s a good idea to follow these recommendations when working out at home or work too. Keep in mind that some of the gym’s safety guidelines may need to be modified for your home or office setting.
- Warm Up First
It’s important to do stretches and flexibility exercises before you start your workout. Though there are literally hundreds of joint mobility exercises out there, here are just a few you can try (demonstration videos for each of these can be found online):
- Arm circles
- Leg extension
- Seated row
- Shoulder press
Before beginning any exercise or physical activity, be sure to properly warm up by doing basic stretches like these.
- Stay Hydrated
It should go without saying, but it’s vital to stay properly hydrated while exercising. Drinking water helps to prevent muscle cramping and lubricates your joints.
Additionally, drinking water can help your muscles stay strong. Remaining well-hydrated enables your muscles to work longer and harder before they feel tired, and this can help you build muscle.
- Strength Training Tips
Strength (or resistance) training is a physical activity designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising different muscle groups against external resistance. You don’t need to become a bodybuilder to enjoy the benefits of strength training. Weight training is user-friendly and can be done at home.
Resistance can come from many things including:
- your own body weight
- traditional free weights/dumbbells
- weight machines
- medicine balls
- resistance bands
- elastic tubing
- soup cans or milk jugs filled with sand
Strength training can be modified so that people of all ages, body types, and fitness levels can participate.
You can work with a personal trainer too or take a strength training fitness course. Many personal trainers and fitness studios also have online offerings.
Safety tip: if you’re lifting weights, always make sure you have a spotter, even at home.
- Don’t Stop Exercising
Exercise is vital to building strong muscles and joints, so one of the worst things you can do is stop working out (unless you’re experiencing intense muscle and joint pain or are recovering from a knee, hip, or other joint surgery). Without a consistent exercise regimen, your muscles can become weak and flabby, and your joints can become stiff and brittle. It’s okay to ease off your full routine while the pain persists, but once your body has recovered, gradually return to normal workouts.
- Don’t Overdo It
A corollary to the previous point is that you shouldn’t overdo it. Avoid excessive exercise, which can cause severe joint and muscle discomfort.
Exercise that’s too vigorous also can release potentially toxic free radicals, which are generated as you burn more oxygen. These can modify your DNA, break down the structure of your cells, and generally lower the quality of your life. This is an important step in helping to prevent post-workout muscle and joint pain.
- Post-Workout Stretch
This step should go without saying, but many people skip it or ignore it…to their detriment. Stretching is especially important during the cooldown phase of your workout as it prevents the buildup of lactic acid and metabolites, which can lead to muscle cramping, spasming, and soreness. Also, don’t forget to stretch the muscles around the areas you worked out; an important step that’s easy to forget.
Consider doing a round of static stretches for your hamstrings, glutes, quads, shoulders, triceps, and wrists. Also, you can tailor your routine to stretch the muscles used in your workout. A coach, personal trainer, or physical therapist can be helpful in that regard.
Stretching, both pre- and post-workout, can help to improve your joint range of motion and your athletic performance, while decreasing your risk of injury, so make it a part of your workout ritual.
Exercise is a great way to feel better, gain health benefits, and just have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of some form of physical activity every day. If you’re looking to lose weight, you may want to extend the duration and increase the intensity of your workout sessions.
Many have discovered the positive physical and mental effects associated with exercise. Incorporating these workout safety tips into your gym/office/home exercise routine can help keep you strong, fit, and injury-free!
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