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Fitness: Getting and Staying Active (cont.)

Preventing Injury and Illness

Physical activity is good for your health, but you can hurt yourself if you don't do it right. Always keep safety in mind.

  • Learn about the risks of any new activity you begin. Take lessons if you need to know how to do exercises with proper form and technique to avoid injury.
  • Wear clothing that is right for your activity. Wear shoes that have good support for your feet.
  • Always use the safety gear that goes with your chosen activity, like helmets and knee pads. Learn about the proper fit of that gear.
  • Start an activity session routine slowly. Then work up to your normal level.
  • Pay attention to pain and tiredness. They are your body's way of telling you to slow down. Muscle soreness is common when you try a new activity, but pain can mean you're injured. If you are very tired, you may be doing too much too soon.

Watch out for these injuries and illnesses as you exercise:

  • Overuse injuries—like tennis elbow, for example—can happen to anyone who overuses certain joints or muscles. Doing too much too soon, doing intense exercise, not varying your routine, or playing sports can lead to overuse injuries. Not using the proper form for the activity or wearing poorly fitting shoes can also cause injury.
  • Dehydration. You can lose too much water through sweating if you don't replace it by drinking fluids as you exercise. Follow these guidelines to avoid dehydration when you exercise.
  • Heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or dehydration may be caused by exercising in heat and humidity.
    Quick Tips: Staying Active in Hot Weather
  • Overhydration during exercise is unusual, but it is a medical emergency when it happens. You can become overhydrated from drinking too much fluid. This is rare, but it can happen to people who do strenuous exercise for a long time, such as long-distance runners. Symptoms include:
    • Feeling bloated (your watchband may feel tight).
    • Feeling sick to your stomach.
    • Feeling confused.
  • Exercise-induced asthma can occur even if you don't have asthma at any other time.
  • Overtraining is rare, but it can make you tired and grouchy, as well as raising your risk for injury and illness.
  • Heart attack is rare, but be aware of the symptoms, such as chest pain and pressure, shortness of breath, and nausea and vomiting.
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