Regular physical activity is vital for good physical, social and emotional health. While there is a risk of injury with any type of physical activity, the benefits of staying active far outweigh the risks.
You can reduce your risk of exercise injury by:
- wearing the right shoes
- using the correct equipment
- drinking lots of water
- warming up and stretching properly.
Exercise safety advice
You can obtain information and advice about exercise safety from your doctor, a sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist – or see a sporting association about correct sporting technique and equipment.
Guidelines for exercise safety
Some guidelines for general exercise safety include:
- Use pre-exercise screening to identify whether you are at a higher risk of experiencing a health problem during physical activity. This is a filter or ‘safety net’ to help decide if the potential benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for you. Ensure you read through pre-exercise self-screening before you embark on a physical activity or exercise program.
- When deciding if any exercise is safe, you need to consider the technique used as well as your individual condition, such as injury history and fitness level.
- Be guided by a qualified fitness instructor. If you have a pre-existing injury or medical condition, consult a sports medicine doctor, exercise physiologist or physiotherapist.
- There are many changes during pregnancy, such as changes in body shape and size, that pose potential risk of increased injury. It is essential that all pregnant women discuss their exercise plans with their doctor, as each pregnancy is different.
- Be aware that increasing the speed of any exercise can increase the risk of injury.
- Avoid or modify any exercise that causes you pain or discomfort. Don’t ignore your body’s signals of fatigue, discomfort and pain.
- Cross-train with other sports and exercises to reduce the risk of over training.
- Make sure you have at least one recovery day, preferably two, every week.
- Remember that injuries need rest – trying to ‘work through’ the pain will cause more damage to soft muscle tissue and delay healing.
When to stop exercising immediately
Stop exercising and seek medical help if you experience symptoms such as:
- discomfort or pain
- chest pain or other pain that could indicate a heart attack, including pain in the neck and jaw, pain travelling down the arm or pain between the shoulder blades
- extreme breathlessness
- a very rapid or irregular heartbeat during exercise.