How can we maintain safety in exercise?
Fitness Exercises Must be Safe
Safety is the primary requirement for scientific fitness exercises. The safety of exercise is influenced by internal and external factors. Internal factors include age, gender, exercise skills and abilities, and health condition. External factors include the environment, equipment, and facilities. By conducting a risk assessment before exercise, monitoring exercise intensity during exercise, and promoting proper recovery after exercise, we can effectively prevent accidents and injuries during physical activities.
I. Risk Factors for Exercise Injuries
Internal risk factors
Firstly, certain fitness activities have specific requirements for physical fitness, and individuals without sufficient foundations or with anatomical weaknesses in certain body parts are more prone to exercise injuries. Secondly, inadequate exercise skills and improper technique during physical activities, which violate biomechanical principles, can lead to acute injuries. Lastly, chronic injuries can occur when certain body parts are subjected to long-term excessive stress, surpassing the tissue's maximum capacity to tolerate load and resulting in degenerative pathological changes.
Many exercise injuries are associated with these internal factors. For example, older individuals who participate in intense exercise without sufficient preparation may experience injuries. Amateur athletes who engage in sports such as tennis or badminton with incorrect technique may suffer from shoulder or elbow injuries. Middle-aged and elderly individuals who perform excessive exercise, such as square dancing or long-distance walking, may experience knee joint injuries. Some injuries can be recovered through rest and adjustments, while others may lead to permanent damage, interrupting or terminating fitness activities and causing physical and psychological distress.
External risk factors
Fitness enthusiasts should not only consider internal risk factors but also pay close attention to external risk factors to minimize exercise risks and ensure safety. External risk factors primarily include uneven terrain, poor lighting conditions, low-quality or improperly installed equipment, extreme temperatures, and inappropriate workout attire or footwear. By recognizing and adequately preparing for these external risk factors before engaging in fitness exercises, the risks can be substantially reduced.
II. Risk Assessment for Exercise
Risk assessment is a crucial component of fitness exercise planning and a key focus of exercise safety. If individuals have established exercise habits and plan to engage in moderate-intensity activities, they generally do not require this screening. However, individuals who should undergo medical evaluation before starting an exercise program include males over 40 years old and females over 50 years old with no prior exercise habits, those at a high risk of cardiovascular diseases, and those preparing to engage in unfamiliar and intense fitness activities. Fitness enthusiasts can also conduct self-assessment to determine whether they need formal medical evaluation.
Additionally, individuals can evaluate whether medical evaluation is necessary by answering the following questions:
Has a doctor advised you to only participate in exercise recommended by a healthcare professional due to a heart condition?
Do you experience chest pain during exercise?
Have you experienced chest pain within the past month without engaging in exercise?
Have you ever lost balance or consciousness due to dizziness?
Do you have any bone or joint pain (back, waist, knees, etc.) that worsens with exercise?
Has your doctor recently recommended medication for your blood pressure or heart problems?
Are you aware of any other reasons that prevent you from exercising?
If one or more of these questions are answered "yes," it is advisable to visit a hospital or seek professional guidance for medical evaluation to determine suitability for exercise.
III. Requirements for Safe Fitness
Firstly, patients should undergo a physical examination and obtain permission from a doctor before formulating or implementing a fitness plan. If individuals have certain medical conditions or a family history of hereditary diseases, they should consult a doctor and engage in fitness activities under medical supervision, following the doctor's recommendations.
Secondly, if conditions permit, individuals should seek exercise prescriptions from experts in sports medicine based on their physical condition and health status. These prescriptions will guide individuals to engage in purposeful, planned, safe, and scientifically sound fitness exercises.
Thirdly, adequate warm-up activities should be performed before each exercise session to overcome physiological inertia of the internal organs and prevent exercise injuries. After fitness exercises, proper cool-down and relaxation activities should be conducted to promote physical recovery and prevent fatigue-related injuries.
Fourthly, it is advisable to avoid exercising immediately after meals, when hungry, or when fatigued. Individuals should refrain from engaging in high-intensity fitness exercises during the early stages of recovering from illness. Excessive fluid intake during exercise should be avoided to prevent additional strain on the heart or gastrointestinal discomfort. Taking cold showers immediately after exercise is not recommended.
Fifthly, fitness enthusiasts should pay attention to the safety of exercise venues and equipment. When using new exercise equipment, it is essential to understand its performance and proper usage. Prior to starting fitness exercises, individuals should be aware of the temperature and humidity conditions of the exercise venue.
IV. Correct Understanding of Injuries and Risks in Exercise
Exercise is a stimulus to the human body, and like any other stimulus, it elicits a series of physiological responses. Over time, the body adapts to these stimuli, which is a natural mechanism for adapting to internal and external environmental changes. Physical adaptations to exercise often involve structural improvements, enhanced functions, and increased physical fitness, skills, and abilities. These adaptations form the foundation for promoting physical health through exercise. Following the principles of biological adaptation, if the intensity and volume of stimuli are too small, the responses and adaptations will be limited and fail to enhance physical fitness. Conversely, if the intensity and volume of stimuli are excessively high, intense responses can lead to adverse outcomes, most notably an increased risk of exercise injuries, which is more common in competitive sports. For fitness enthusiasts, selecting exercise stimuli with moderate intensity and volume is crucial to achieving health-promoting goals.
Since it is challenging to precisely measure exercise intensity and volume, and the same exercise intensity and volume can have different effects on individuals and even on the same individual in different states, the risk of exercise injuries is inherent for fitness enthusiasts. However, fearing exercise and avoiding physical activities due to the risk of injuries is an incorrect attitude held by some individuals. It is important to have a correct understanding of the risk of exercise injuries, considering the following points:
Exercise does carry a risk of sudden death, but this risk exists only in a small number of individuals with severe cardiovascular diseases. Proper risk assessment can largely prevent such risks.
By following the rules of exercise programs and engaging in fitness activities scientifically and reasonably, the occurrence of exercise injuries can be effectively minimized. Not exercising or only engaging in activities with very low intensity is not the correct approach.
In the event of an exercise injury, it is necessary to promptly identify the cause, temporarily pause exercise, and provide appropriate treatment. Non-severe exercise injuries do not usually lead to long-term barriers to physical activities.
As the body's physiological function, exercise skills, and abilities improve through fitness exercises, the probability of exercise injuries further decreases.
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