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How to Avoid Exercise Injury

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Updated April 20, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Ease Into Exercise to Avoid Injury

1. Ease Into It

A common cause of injury is doing too much, too soon, but how do you know if you're doing too much? It's hard to know what your body is capable of, but there are things you can do to make exercise safer:

  • See your doctor: This isn't necessary for everyone but, if you have an injury or illness, are pregnant, are on any medications or if you're a senior, getting a clean bill of health and advice for what to avoid can help keep you injury free.
  • Start with no or low impact cardio: Walking, cycling, swimming or the elliptical trainer are easier on your joints and connective tissue. Working your way up to high impact exercises like aerobics or running will ensure your body builds the strength and endurance to handle the impact.
  • Keep it slow: Start with 10-20 minutes (or whatever you can handle) at a moderate intensity, or a Level 5 on this perceived exertion chart.
  • Ease into Weights: Start with a basic total body program that targets your major muscle groups 2-3 days a week. Start with 1 set and choose a lighter weight, gradually adding sets or weight each week when the exercises feel easy.
  • Rest: Take rest days whenever you feel very sore or fatigued. It may take a few weeks of consistent exercise to build the strong foundation you need to exercise more.
  • Add intensity gradually: Once you can do cardio for 30 minutes at a time, add intensity or try different workouts, such as interval training. For your strength training, add intensity by lifting heavier or changing your exercises and sets.

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