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Playing it safe

female mountain-biker in full protective gear posing beneath a rock outcropping

Starting a physical activity program

Adopting an active lifestyle is smart. But so is playing it safe. Start slow if you have not been physically active for a long time (see Types of physical activity). And talk to your doctor before you begin any physical activity if you:

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Preventing injury

You can also take these steps to prevent injury:

  • Use safety equipment. For example, wear a helmet for bike riding or supportive shoes for walking or jogging.
  • Start every workout with a warm-up. Spend 5 to 10 minutes doing some easy stretches and movement, progressing to a brisk walk. Do the same thing when you're done working out until your heart rate returns to normal.
  • Drink plenty of fluids when you are physically active, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Always bend forward from the hips, not the waist. If you keep your back straight, you're probably bending the right way. If your back "humps," that's probably wrong.
  • Stop being active if you feel very out of breath, dizzy, nauseous, or have pain. If your chest feels tight or painful, or you feel faint or have trouble breathing, stop the activity right away and talk to your doctor.

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Content last updated June 17, 2008.

Resources last updated June 17, 2008.

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