Stretching is one way to reduce injuries.

Nothing will sideline your fitness goals faster than an injury. Strains, sprains, pulls, and tears make it hard to get around, much less exercise. Yet, every year, nearly nine million people suffer a sports or recreation-related injury. Below are a few tips to reduce the likelihood that you will be one of them. 

1. Check With Your Doctor

If you are considering beginning a new exercise program and it’s been a while, consult your doctor first. They can evaluate your current health status and make sure your cardiovascular system, respiratory health, and other vitals are in order. And if you do have health concerns, they can address them.

2. Don’t Overexert Yourself

Far and away, one of the leading causes of activity-related injuries is simply pushing the intensity level too high. Whether you are just beginning or a seasoned pro, it is vital to know your limits and operate within them. Challenging yourself and reaching new heights is one thing but listen to your body. If it hurts or causes pain, slow down. 

3. Do a Warmup & Cooldown

No Olympic runner walks out of the locker room and immediately tries to set a record, and neither should you. Spend 10 or 20 minutes slowly and thoroughly stretching your muscles first. Go from head to toe and give extra focus to your core, hamstrings, and any problem areas. And when you start your activity, ease into it. Give yourself time to warm up and get comfortable before upping your intensity. 

And when you are finished, just repeat the routine but in reverse. Begin tapering down your intensity level until your heart rate slows back down. End with stretching your muscles again. Going through this warmup and cooldown process will help you avoid injuries and recover from workouts more quickly.

4. Stay Hydrated

The human body is two-thirds water. Not only does adequate hydration help our cells do what they need to do, but it can also affect the physical strength and stamina of your muscles, bones, and connective tissue. And if you are dehydrated and doing physical activity, pulling a muscle or otherwise injuring yourself is much easier.  

Instead, get a nice, reusable water bottle for yourself and sip water throughout the day. A half-gallon to one gallon per day is a good target amount for most adults.

5. Follow a Healthy Diet

You are what you eat — we’re not saying that’s true but what you eat does influence your physical health. Especially if you are physically active. Eating whole foods and avoiding sugar, unhealthy fats, and refined ingredients provides your body with good nutrition on which to grow and operate. Not to mention that keeping it clean and lean promotes a good recovery after a workout. 

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