How to Avoid Potentially Hazardous Exercises

Three Parts:Choosing Exercise that is Safe for YouExercising SafelyIncluding an Adequate Amount of Exercise Each Week

Regular physical activity is a great way to maintain your health. It can help you lose weight, improve your mood, improve your sleeping habits, decrease your blood pressure and decrease your risk of death from a chronic disease.[1] But not all exercise is appropriate for everyone. Depending on your past and current health conditions, some types of exercise may actually be harmful or hazardous instead of beneficial. To avoid potentially hazardous types of exercises, talk to your doctor, listen to your body and be smart about what exercises you do and how you do them. That way, you can still reap the benefits of regular exercise, but stay safe while you're doing them.

Part 1
Choosing Exercise that is Safe for You

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    Talk to your doctor. Even if you think you're perfectly healthy, talking to your doctor is essential before you start an exercise routine. Make an appointment or talk on the phone to review your exercise plan with your physician.
    • Getting a medical clearance from your doctor may seem silly or unnecessary. However, your doctor knows you and your health best and will be a great asset when trying to stay active.
    • Ask your doctor about exercise. Ask whether or not all exercises are safe for you. Can you do higher intensity or high impact exercises? Can you workout for more than 45 or 60 minutes? Do you need to keep your heart below a certain level?
    • See if your doctor can give you specific information or guidance on exercise. Ask for an exercise plan and how to progress safely over time.
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    Pick safe exercises while you're pregnant. One time that you need to be exceptionally careful when exercising is if you're pregnant. Exercise may not only be harmful to you, but also to your growing baby if you're not very careful.
    • In general, if you were physically active before you got pregnant, that same or a slightly lower intensity version of those exercises will be safe while you're pregnant. In fact, many OB/GYN physicians will tell you to continue with exercise as long as it's comfortable.[2]
    • However, there are some very specific guidelines. Avoid exercise that: has a high risk of falling, has a risk of getting hit in the abdomen, have excessive amounts of jumping or hopping, have twisting movements while standing, or exercises that require intense bursts of activity.
    • Avoid exercises like: HIIT workouts, strenuous strength training exercises, martial arts or kickboxing, team sports like basketball or soccer, jumping rope or sprinting.
    • Although exercise can be dangerous while you're pregnant, it still offers a lot of benefits if you're safe. Talk to your OB/GYN for specific guidelines on what you can and cannot do. This will vary from woman to woman.
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    Choose appropriate exercises if you have a heart condition. There are a variety of heart and cardiac conditions that will require extra care when exercising. Whether you have heart disease, heart failure or suffer from chronic angina, choose exercises that are safe for your condition.
    • Your heart and cardiovascular system play an essential role when it comes to exercising. Although your body muscles may be working hard, it's your heart muscle that's supporting your entire body when you exercise.[3]
    • Although exercise can eventually strengthen your heart and even help you recover or cope with certain heart conditions, it can also work your heart too hard and cause uncomfortable chest pain or more serious side effects.
    • Avoid exercises that do not include a warm-up or cool-down, that increase your heart rate above a moderate-intensity, are done for long periods of time or are done in extreme weather conditions (like hot, humid or excessively cold weather).
    • Avoid exercises like: HIIT workouts, upper body strength training exercises, sprinting, spin classes, or using the rowing machine.
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    Include exercise after an injury. Another time you need to be very careful with certain exercises is after you've injured yourself. If you don't do the right type or intensity of exercise you can prevent your body from healing and even re-injure yourself.
    • Whether you've injured your knee, back or neck, you need to be very careful when you restart your normal exercise routine. If you're not, the risk for another injury or a long healing time is high.[4]
    • In general, don't start back with the same exercise where you injured yourself to begin with. For example, if you have runners knee, don't start back with your long runs again.
    • Also, don't choose high impact or high intensity exercises. These can cause injury and need adequate time to build up to.
    • Avoid: HIIT workouts, running or sprinting, step aerobics and more strenuous strength training.
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    Pick age-appropriate exercises. As you age, there are additional safety concerns you should be aware of when it comes to exercise. Choose activities that will be safe for you and don't have a high injury risk.
    • As you age, there are additional health factors to take into consideration. For example, you might have weakened muscles, have more difficulty balancing, have decreased range of motion or have health conditions like arthritis that make it more difficult to be active.[5]
    • What exercises you avoid will be based on your current health condition and comfort level. However, it might be a good idea to stay away from higher intensity exercises, high impact exercises, exercises with jarring movements or exercises that require larger range of motion.
    • It might be wise to avoid: running, jumping rope, aerobics classes, sports and advanced yoga or pilates classes.
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    Choose safe exercises for after a surgery or a medical procedure. One particular time that you need to avoid potentially hazardous exercises is when you're recovery from a surgery. Be very careful when you're exercising so that you can allow your body to heal fully.
    • Whether you had a C-section, a spinal surgery or had your gallbladder removed, surgery is a serious situation. Physical activity can prevent healing and even cause injury while you're healing.
    • Avoid all activity of any type until you get a clearance from your physician. You should also avoid exercise while taking narcotic pain medications or while your sutures or stitches are still healing.[6]
    • Just because you've been cleared for exercise doesn't mean you can go full throttle. Avoid high intensity activities, exercises that having jarring motions or high impact exercises.
    • Avoid running, sprinting, aerobics classes, yoga, pilates and strength training exercises.

Part 2
Exercising Safely

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    Seek the help of a personal trainer. Regardless of why you need to be careful, it's important to stay as safe as possible. One person that can help guide you in addition to your physician is a personal trainer.
    • Look for a personal trainer at your local gym. Many times gyms will offer their members a discount or a few free sessions with their membership.
    • You may also find a trainer that can come to your home or work instead of a local fitness center. These trainers can also provide one on one help.
    • If you know what you can and cannot do, you can ask the trainers or staff at the gym just to help you use the machine correctly and help you stick with correct form while you exercise.
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    Use correct form while you exercise. When you are exercising, you need to make sure you're using proper form. This is especially true if you're pregnant, recovering from an injury or recovering from a surgical procedure.
    • If you don't have correct form, even a simple exercise like a squat can cause injuries.
    • If you have a personal trainer, make sure you ask them to review correct form on all the exercises you're doing.
    • If not, try to read online or watch videos so that you can actually see what correct form looks like.
    • When you're actually exercising, try to be in front of a mirror to see yourself. This will help you get a better view of your entire body and see if you're in correct form.
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    Stop exercising if you feel any pain. As long as you're feeling OK while you exercise, it's generally safe to continue to do so. However, you should stop exercising if you begin to feel uncomfortable or have pain.[7]
    • If you've begun to exercise and you start having pain, it's a good idea to stop and take a break for the day.
    • This is especially true if you feel any sharp pain, acute or very local pain, or the pain increases the more you continue to exercise.
    • Also discontinue exercising if you have chest pains, difficultly breathing or tightness in your chest.
    • With pain or any other symptoms, stop exercising and contact your doctor as soon as you can. Do not restart any activity unless provided with a medical clearance.
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    Avoid extreme weather conditions. Even if you're participating in a relatively safe exercise, there are some weather conditions that can make any exercise unsafe and hazardous to your health.
    • If it's the summer months, take great care when exercising outdoors. If it's excessively hot or humid, its best to stay indoors when you exercise or go very early in the morning or late in the evening.[8]
    • On the other end of the spectrum, it's not safe to exercise when it's extremely cold or icy outside. Again, stick to an indoor routine.
    • Keep track of the weather by watching the news or researching your local forecast online. That way, you know what days will be the safest to exercise outdoors.
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    Include a warm-up and cool-down. To help you stay safe during your exercise routine, it's recommended to include both a warm-up and a cool-down. This will help get your body ready to start and end exercise.[9]
    • A warm-up should be about 5 minutes long. Choose a low intensity and low impact activity. Many times, a warm up is a slower version of the exercise you're planning to do.
    • For example, you might walk for 5 minutes prior to running for 30 or 45 minutes.
    • A cool-down is similar to the warm-up. It should be done for 5-10 minutes and include a progressively slowing exercise and end with stretching.
    • For example, you might end your run by jogging slowly for a minute or two, walking for a minute or two and then spending 5 minutes stretching.
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    Choose a safe time to exercise. Outside of the negative health effects that exercise can have, it's also important to find a safe time to exercise.[10]
    • If you usually exercise by yourself, you need to be careful about when and where you exercise.
    • For example, if you go for a run by yourself at night, you need to take extra safety precautions.
    • Choose a time of day that other people are also exercising or that someone can go with you.
    • Also, try not to exercise alone when it's dark - either early morning or at night. Choose a time of day where it's light and areas are well lit.

Part 3
Including an Adequate Amount of Exercise Each Week

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    Include 150 minutes of cardio each week. Once you figure out what types of exercise aren't going to be hazardous to your health, start working on incorporating the right amount of activity each week. Start with including the correct amount of cardio.
    • Health professionals recommend that you include at least 150 minutes or about 2 1/2 hours of cardiovascular or aerobic exercises each week.[11]
    • These exercises should be moderate intensity. However, if you're not able to do moderate intensity, stick to lower intensity activity until you're able to advance.
    • Try exercises like: walking, jogging, water aerobics, cycling, dancing or using the elliptical machine.
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    Add in a few days of strength training. In addition to cardiovascular exercise, it's also important to include a few days of strength training. These exercises will help you build and tone your muscles.[12]
    • Health professionals recommend that you include one or two days of strength training in addition to your aerobic activity.
    • Choose exercises that will work every major muscle group and aim to do exercises for at least 20 minutes in total.
    • Again, be careful with what you choose. Only choose strength training activities that will not cause further injury or damage.
    • Yoga is a great strength training exercise to start with. It can be customized for a variety of issues and it's easier on your body. In addition, you can eventually do weight lifting or body weight exercises as well.
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    Increase your lifestyle activity. If you're not able to do a lot of the recommended structured activity, don't worry. You can still stay active and reap the benefits of activity by increasing your lifestyle activity.
    • Studies show that lifestyle activity can have similar benefits to structured aerobic activity.[13]
    • Lifestyle activity are those exercises that are a part of your normal, daily routine. Gardening, household chores, walking and taking the stairs all count as lifestyle activity.
    • If you're not able to do much physical activity, try increasing how much you move, how much you stand and how many steps you take during the day.
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    Include a few rest days into your weekly plan. Nothing is more important to your body's rest and recovery than days off. Make sure to schedule in a few rest days into your exercise routine.
    • Fitness professionals know that rest days are essential to your overall health. It's during rest that your body will heal itself, recover and do any repair that's needed.
    • If you start back in with your exercise routine and don't take enough rest days, you can increase your risk of prolonged recovery and have a higher injury rate.[14]
    • In general, most people need about one or two rest days a week. However, if you're recovering from an injury, surgery, are pregnant or have other health issues, you may need three rest days a week.
    • Talk to your doctor to see what's most appropriate for you. Also listen to your body. If you're feeling tired or overly sore, it's probably time for a rest day.


  • If you're worried about performing an unsafe exercise, talk to your doctor. You should always get clearance from a doctor first.
  • All forms of exercise can be hazardous to certain people. It's important to get specific information from your doctor on what's appropriate for you.
  • As long as you're smart and you take care when exercising, you can stay active without risking your health.

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Categories: Cardio Exercises