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November 20, 2007

6 Cardio Exercise Safety Tips

By Lori Ryan

Cardiovascular exercise isn’t just great for the heart; it also energizes you and helps you to burn fat, all the while improving your body’s circulation. But just as important as cardio exercise, is cardio exercise safety.

Whether you head out for a bike ride or opt to get your heart rate up at gym, exercising is always a great idea.

But before you run off to the gym and start running on a treadmill, there are some cardio exercise safety tips you need to keep in mind if you want to remain at peak health.

Cardio exercise safety tip #1
Drink plenty of water

Constant exercise that causes you to sweat depletes your body of water quickly. It’s important that you drink plenty of water before, during and after you exercise.

If you don’t drink water, you might get dizzy and feel weak, and that’s the last thing you want when you’re exercising. Replenishing your body with water constantly will ensure higher energy to keep your workout going strong.

And keep in mind that you don’t need to down liters and liters at a time; a sip or two is enough to replenish the body. Take a sip every few minutes.

Cardio exercise safety tip #2
Stop if you feel pain

No pain, no gain is a great motto if you lift weights and are trying to increase muscle mass. When you’re doing cardio, however, you should never feel uncomfortable pain.

If your chest begins to hurt, you feel like you’re panting too heavily, or you begin to get dizzy, stop your workout immediately and walk around the area slowly until you bring your heart rate down to normal levels.

Feeling like you don’t want to go on is one thing – that’s a matter of discipline – but if you begin to feel sharp pains in your body, you should stop exercising and make an appointment to see your doctor.

Cardio exercise safety tip #3
Get to know the equipment
Before you hop onto a treadmill or take your mountain bike out for an excursion, get acquainted with the machine you’re about to use.

If it’s something you own, check out the manual; there may be elements to the mechanism that you would never have discovered otherwise.

If it’s not something you own, play around with the buttons and read all the information on it before you get started.

The last thing you want to do is get injured and end up bedridden for months, so make sure you understand how to use any and all pieces of equipment.

Cardio exercise safety tip #4
Figure out your heart rate
There is such a thing as overexertion and you don’t want to go there. You might think that working really hard is great, but if you maintain your maximum heart rate for an extended period of time, your body will not be able to circulate oxygen throughout your body quickly enough and you may begin to feel like you’re not getting any air.

Some cardio machines offer the option of figuring out your heart rate for you, but they are guesstimating at best. I strongly recommend purchasing a heart rate monitor so that you always know how elevated your heart rate is.

Cardio exercise safety tip #5
Don’t eat right before
Eating a snack about 30 minutes before you begin a cardio program is fine, but eating a full meal beforehand is not recommended because most of your oxygen and blood stores will end up working on digesting the food you ate.

If you did eat a full meal and want to work out, I suggest you hold off for about 60 to 90 minutes, especially if the workout you plan on doing is intense.

Cardio exercise safety tip #6
Plan for hot weather

If you’re about to go outside in the middle of summer to get a sweaty workout in, you need to keep in mind that you need to give your body a couple of weeks to get used the blaring heat.

Do your best not to train between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the summer, as the temperature is most elevated and the sun is strongest at these times.

Bring a big bottle of water with you and drink about eight ounces every 30 minutes or so. As well, if you’re in the midst of an intense activity like tennis, take a break every hour or so.

Cardio exercise safety first

If you plan on getting fit, then I congratulate you, but what’s more important than looking hot in a bikini is being able to put it on without help. So make sure that you follow these cardio exercise safety tips at all times and have an awesome workout!

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