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Fitness Articles  ›  Exercise Basics

Exercise Safety Tips for Beginners

Ready, Set, Exercise!

-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness Expert
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Gyms & Trainers: What to Look For
If you do some of your exercise in the gym, whether on your own, in group classes, or with a personal trainer, there are some simple precautions you can take to keep yourself safe:
  • Make sure the gym’s trainers and instructors have been trained and certified by a reputable, national certification agency, such as ACE, AFAA, ACSM or NSCA. They should also hold current CPR and first aid certifications, so they can take action if an emergency occurs.
  • Ask the gym staff about the emergency action plan (every gym should have one and the employees should know its details) and equipment they have on hand, such as a basic first aid kid and an AED (Automated external defibrillator).
  • Tell every personal trainer and fitness instructor who works with you about your limitations or medical conditions. Well-trained instructors should ask about this at the beginning of any group class or during your first session and be able to offer modifications.
  • If you don't understand the instructions given, or the proper way to do an exercise or use a piece of equipment, always ask first. Improper technique or body position is a major cause of injury.
Know Your Limits & Your Needs
A big part of exercise safety is prevention. Just as your car will run better when you service it regularly, your body will protect itself from injury when you give it the food, water, rest, and attention it needs to operate at its best.

You’ll find a lot of information in the Resource Center and on the Message Boards about basic nutrition, and exercise-related concerns such as stretching, warming up and cooling down properly, and dealing with minor aches and pains before they become big problems.

So, do your homework first, then get out there and start sweating!
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • EVIE4NOW
    Have pain or pressure in the left or middle part of your chest, or in the left side of your neck, left shoulder or left arm... I would add to this a pain between your shoulder blades or being nauseous can also be signs of a heart attack. - 4/23/2014 9:32:48 AM
  • Thanks for the article. Good info
    - 6/28/2013 4:24:41 PM
  • NANUOF3
    Trying hard to lose weight. Can't really exercise yet, just diagnosed with left bundle branch blockage in my heart. Put myself on a strict diet and do a lot of 5-10 minute exercises. Wish me luck. This is my first week and feeling some better and clothes are already fitting a tad looser. - 1/16/2013 9:03:27 PM
  • LGECOL55
    I just had the OK from my Doctor to join the local gym since they have my seizures under control. I live alone, they don't want me exercising by my self. The gym is very nervous,
    and I know when to stop by body signals. I do not pass out, but have right side weakness with my seizures. Do I just plain not exercise or give it a try.
    lgecol55 - 10/5/2012 6:01:23 PM
  • Good article. This helps me alot, because I have an appointment at curves. I asked a few questions on the phone, now I have more. I am not sure it is right for me , but this gives me the info. I needed . I have some problems that limits me I hope they have a program that fits my needs. Thanks for this article. - 9/8/2012 9:58:58 AM
  • MOLLFOX
    Great article, thanks for sharing! - 5/23/2012 11:31:56 AM
  • thank for the article on exercise i just join the ymca try to go every day .but not all way do.but just wont you to know i did read the article and they did help out thank you - 5/5/2012 9:04:01 PM
  • You neglected to mention NASM as one of the nationally recognized certifying agencies. - 1/18/2012 10:19:05 AM
  • Just a "thumbs up" to Anne's comments about Chair Exercises. I use a walker & thought I was doomed as far as ever being able to do cardio exercises, but started with "Stronger Seniors" dvds & with the help of those (& tracking my portions of food), I've lost 25 lbs in the last 3 months sans injury. Given my starting weight of 310 lbs, in no way could I support the full weight of my body & exercise while standing without hurting myself. So, Chair Exercises are definitely the way to go! - 6/25/2011 6:00:30 PM
  • Timely advice now that the weather has turned and people feel the need to get out and exercise.

    It is important to point out that not everyone can start with traditional exercise. If you are in a special population (overweight or obese, elderly, diabetic or arthritic), modified exercise could be a good starting point.

    Chair Exercise and water exercise are non-impact options that will get you on the path to consistent exercise without the risk of injury. Since chair and water exercise is a bit easier than some other forms of fitness activities, you will be more likely to stay with your goals and not feel that "I'm too old" or "I'm too sick", or "I'm too heavy."

    Of course, speak with your health care professional before beginning any exercise program if you have been inactive for a while.

    It's never too late to start feeling better, both physically and emotionally. Action does not guarantee happiness, but there can be no happiness without action.

    Write out your goals and start moving. Today!

    Stay strong
    Anne Pringle Burnell
    - 6/23/2011 10:46:17 AM
  • I have cold sweats whenever I exercise and a very uncomfortable pressure between the eyes and in the back of my neck near the occipital. Its rather uncomfortable. Why is cold sweats in the list of concern? - 1/18/2011 11:54:37 AM
  • Hi, I like the article. I tried the links for PARQ and received nothing. I then went to google.com and typed in PARQ and was able to find a pdf of the sheet.

    Also, for those who think they can start and exercise program quickly from nothing and not see a doctor - your body isn't ready for it and you may have hidden health issues that you do not know about. Exercising for health is great until you have a heart attack (etc) because your body isn't ready for the intense program. Taking care of yourself also means to start with the best foot forward - see your health professional! Happy Holidays - 11/29/2010 1:21:30 PM
  • DIANE2110
    I like the articles and there are many. I haven't been able to find any on breathing during exercises. I seem to always end up doing the reverse breathing from what the exercise calls for. Does it matter when I exhale or inhale? - 8/24/2010 1:56:55 PM
  • MOM210
    Leanne26, no the point is not for your heart to RACE. There is a difference in increasing your heart rate to a level that gets you in your target heart rate and having a racing heart. Sometimes your heart can race and it'll be ok but a Doctor has to determine that because if you feel nauseous after a workout, that's a bad sign. If you feel tired that's ok. But, there are types of heart racing that can kill you. Check with your doctor to be sure. - 2/7/2010 6:58:04 AM
  • K_RENEE
    thanks for the link to the PARQ - 1/26/2010 5:50:06 PM
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