What you need to know before you start exercising

Though the thought of starting a regular exercise routine might be exciting, there are certain dangers that you might run into if you overexert yourself. Before beginning a work-out plan, consult your doctor and be mindful of these precautions.

What you need to know before you start exercising

No pain, no gain

It is not true that exercise needs to hurt to be effective. If you are doing enough to benefit your health and burn up calories, you will feel warmer than usual, your breathing will be quicker and your heart rate slightly raised.

If you're not generally very active, your muscles may feel a little sore and stiff the day after exercise, but actual muscle pain during exercise means that you are overdoing it and you need to slow down.

So you don't want to "feel the burn," no matter what anybody says.

If you develop any of these symptoms during exercise, stop what you're doing and call your doctor right away:

  • Pain in your chest, arms or jaw
  • Shortness of breath that lasts for more than 10 minutes, even after you stop exercising
  • Feeling faint or giddy
  • Heart palpitations
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea or vomiting

Weight limits

In contrast to aerobics, which exercises your heart and cardiovascular system, isometric exercise, or weight training, is a form of activity designed to exercise your muscles. Using weights is a good way to maintain and build muscle mass, but it's important not to try to lift weights that are too heavy, since this can put stress on your heart and increase blood pressure.

So weightlifting isn't really something you can incorporate into everyday tasks (like lifting big sacks of potatoes). People who already have heart disease or high blood pressure should not do heavy isometric exercises.

Exercise and heart rates

We all have a maximum heart rate, above which we are overexerting our hearts and putting ourselves at risk. For most people, the maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. So, if you are 50, your maximum heart rate is 170 beats per minute.

Doctors and fitness experts recommend that, during exercise, people should reach and maintain roughly 60 to 65 per cent of their maximum heart rates — and, to promote good health, this level of exertion should be maintained for at least 30 minutes a day.

For a 50 year old, this would be 102 beats per minute. In comparison, the average person has a resting heart rate of about 70 beats per minute.You can measure your heart rate yourself, either manually or with a special monitor.

If you want to check your heart rate manually, count your pulse for a minute to check your resting heart rate. Then do the same again after exercise, to see how close you are to reaching your maximum.

Keep these precautions in mind when you're starting a new exercise routine so that you can get a better sense of whether that routine is right for you.

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