How to Exercise Safely

Being more physically active can help you feel better, deal with stress more easily, and handle day-to-day activities more comfortably. Before you start a fitness program, here are some things to do to help make sure you're exercising safely.

  • Fill out a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire for Everyone (PAR-Q+). If you answer yes to any question on page 2 or 3, you need fill out the Physical Activity Readiness Medical Examination (ePARmed-X+). Ask your health care provider or qualified exercise professional which activities are best for you. If you are taking medication, you may want to ask your health care provider how physical activity will affect your prescriptions.
  • Use equipment that fits you properly, is sturdy and not broken or worn out.
  • Use equipment that's designed for safety. For example, if you're planning to bike, run or walk at night, use lights or wear a reflective vest.
  • Include a proper warm-up and cool­-down with your activity.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your activity. Stop if you're feeling especially tired or if you feel pain or extreme discomfort.
  • It's common to be tired when you're more active, and this is when injuries can happen. To avoid injury, gradually build up how often you're active, your level of effort and the length of time you exercise.
  • Drink fluids before, during and after activity to avoid dehydration.
  • Breathe normally during resistance exercises.
  • Use a steady speed when you're doing resistance exercises. Always use proper techniques and only use a range of motion that is pain-free.
  • Do a light activity one day, then a heavy activity the next. Alternatively, you can use one group of muscles one day and another group the next day. This gives your body plenty of time to recover, repair, and rebuild.
  • Check with a qualified exercise professional to make sure you're using proper form for physical activities. This prevents injuries by reducing stress on muscles, ligaments, and joints.
  • Dress properly for the seasons and weather conditions to avoid overheating in the summer and being too cold in the winter. Wear rain gear, sunscreen, or a hat when needed.
  • Only be active in safe areas. At night, choose areas that are well lit. If you can, avoid heavy traffic.
  • If you're running, choose a soft surface like grass or a wood chip trail, instead of pavement. This helps avoid injuries.
  • Do activities with a friend, family member, or group. If you're by yourself, tell a friend or family member the route you're taking and how long you plan to be gone.
  • You can prevent injuries by doing moderate exercises on a regular basis. This is much safer than trying to squeeze very strenuous activities only into your weekends.
  • Stay active year-round. For instance, do gardening in the spring and snow shoveling in winter. This helps avoid injuries that can happen when your body hasn't been active for a while.

Last Reviewed: December 2016

© 2016 Province of British Columbia. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a health professional. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

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