Balancing Health Benefits of Fitness With Potential Risks


It’s an ironic reality that exercise, a crucial component for good health and longevity, can also pose the risk of harm. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 3.6 million people sought treatment in emergency departments in 2022 for injuries related to sports and recreational activities. A notable portion of these visits, totaling 445,642, was attributed to injuries from exercise and exercise equipment.

Whether you are embarking on a new fitness journey or reestablishing a routine, preventing injuries requires awareness and caution, as emphasized by experts in the field. One common mistake is doing too much too soon when initiating a new exercise regimen, leading to potential injuries or premature quitting.

It’s necessary to view exercise as a long game rather than adopting an all-or-nothing mentality. Remember that fitness is a lifestyle – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Incorporating a little exercise into daily life can yield significant benefits over time, promoting a sustainable and enjoyable fitness routine.

Using proper form during exercise is critical, whether utilizing gym equipment or participating in activities like running or cycling. Good form takes precedence over speed, weight, or strength. Improper form not only diminishes the workout’s effectiveness but can also strain muscles and ligaments, leading to potential injuries.

Common Form Mistakes and Corrections

One prevalent example of poor form is leaning on handrails during treadmill or elliptical workouts. Don’t rely on handrails for support – adjust the pace or incline if fatigued. Additionally, proper bike setup is crucial in cycling to prevent knee or lower back pain.

As individuals age, their bodies may require adjustments in exercise form. Seeking professional guidance, such as a personal trainer or physical therapist, becomes essential to ensure proper form and minimize the risk of injuries.

Overtraining, characterized by repetitive motions, can lead to fatigue, increased susceptibility to injuries, and a plateau in fitness progress. Incorporate variety into workouts, try new machines, join group exercise classes, and integrate strength training exercises to enhance overall fitness.

A gradual increase in workout intensity or duration, such as a 10% increment per week, is one of the best ways to progress your workouts. Avoiding simultaneous boosts in both intensity and duration helps mitigate the risk of injuries. Starting slow and gradually building a routine ensures a sustainable and comfortable approach to regular exercise.

In conclusion, the goal of regular exercise extends beyond physical health to encompass overall well-being. Herrington emphasizes the importance of choosing exercises that bring joy, incorporating core-strengthening routines, and seeking professional guidance when needed. The ultimate objective is to move with comfort and ease throughout life, making exercise a lifelong companion in the journey to a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.

How do you mitigate risks with benefits when exercising? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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