Resolve to stay fit and safe at the gym

The top New Year’s resolution continues to be weight loss. It also is the most commonly broken resolution. Still, many people try to beat the odds by joining a gym or fitness center in early January. While some are daunted by lack of motivation, others are hindered by injuries and other avoidable aches and pains.

Follow these tips to make your fitness journey rewarding and safe so that your goals of weight loss and health are more attainable.

Take caution in the locker room. “What? I haven’t stepped foot in the gym yet!” True, but bacteria and fungus can thrive in a locker room environment where there is lack of sunlight, increased humidity, and warm temperatures. Cover any open cuts or sores with a band aid to avoid infection. Never go barefoot. Wearing shoes or flip flops will reduce your risk of slips and falls, as well as decrease your chances of getting athlete's foot or other fungal conditions.

Ease into it. Don’t believe the “no pain, no gain” mantra. Muscle strain is the most common injury at the gym. Many people who haven’t exercised for a long time all too quickly realize their bodies don’t react to physical exertion the way they did when younger and more in shape. Stretching and warming up prior to a work out will help, but knowing your limits is even better. If you’re not sure how much weight you should lift, or the proper form for a particular exercise, consult with a personal trainer.

Inspect equipment. Weight machines have many moving parts like pulleys, clamps, weight pins, and locking mechanisms. Always wear closed-toe shoes and watch for points that can pinch fingers. Make sure you know how to correctly use any equipment prior to working out, and check that all moving parts are operating smoothly. If you notice frayed cables, loose fittings, or other wear and tear, notify  gym management immediately.

Check cardio machines. The use of stair climbers, bikes, ellipticals, and other electronic machines can burn calories quickly and help increase endurance. They also pose risks. A simple YouTube search for treadmills will reveal a plethora of fails and mishaps. Do not push yourself beyond your ability to keep up with the machine’s speed, and notify gym staff about any erratic electronic behavior.

There are reports of thousands landing in emergency rooms each year after run-ins with workout equipment. By taking a few precautions and sticking with it, you’ll be able to look back a year from now and celebrate the fact you actually kept your resolution to get fit. Good luck!

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