Cardiovascular exercise is not only great for the heart, it’s also an energy booster and helps you burn calories while improving your body’s blood circulation. But cardio exercise safety is just as important as the cardio exercise itself. So next time you head out for a jog or to spin class at the gym, keep these three essential safety tips in mind to maintain peak health!
1) Wear proper workout attire. Don’t ruin a good workout with constricting or uncomfortable clothes. Think comfort! Choose lightweight, stretchable clothes that allow you to move freely. You may want to invest in clothes made of special wicking material such as CoolMax – it keeps you cool and dry in the summer and warm in the winter. Also, make sure you are wearing the right shoes for your activity. For weight training and low impact activities, consider cross training shoes or walking shoes. If you participate in sports like basketball, football, or tennis, opt for sport-specific shoes to get you the necessary support.
2) Don’t skip the warm-up and cool-down. The warm-up is necessary because cold muscles are not very flexible, so they are more likely to be torn or pulled when you start exercising. Warm muscles, however, have a wider range of motion. So before you begin any exercise, warm-up for 5 to 10 minutes to loosen your muscles, which will allow you to have more power in your exercise performance. The cool-down is important because it gradually slows down blood pressure and allows the heart to slowly return to its resting state. Also, the cool-down helps prevent delayed onset muscle soreness, which is the soreness that occurs a day or so after an intense workout. So after your cardio workout, make time for 5-10 minutes to cool-down your body – your body will appreciate it!
3) Drink plenty of water. Soda, juice, and energy drinks do not count. If you are dehydrated, the heart works harder to move blood through the bloodstream, which can cause muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue, and heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. During physical activity the body loses water primarily through sweat, even in cold weather or in water. Thirst does not occur until you are already dehydrated! The key to staying hydrated is to drink: before you get thirsty, 1 to 2 cups 30 minutes before and after exercise, and ½ to 1 cup per 15 minutes of exercise.
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