By: Connor Davies ’14, Public and Community Health, CRS Communications Assistant
Hitting the gym is a great way to live well at UMD, but the gym environment inherently involves some risk of injury or accident. Fortunately, there are some really simple ways to minimize that risk and make the most of your time in the gym.
Behold – the 10 Commandments of Gym Safety!
Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Fuel Up
One may think that working out an empty stomach makes you burn more fat because it is the only fuel source available.
In fact, working out on an empty stomach can lead to low blood sugar, dizziness and even loss of consciousness. Your body needs energy in the source of carbs to function. Try eating a small meal of complex carbs like whole grain toast and peanut butter or rice and black beans up to an hour before your workout. The extra fuel will keep you going for a longer, stronger, safer work out!
Commandment #2: Thou Shalt Wear Proper Clothing
Workout gear that is too loose can be a trip hazard, or get caught in the moving parts of machines. On the other end of the spectrum wearing clothes that are too restrictive, like jeans, can make it hard to move and get an effective workout. Find workout gear that makes you feel comfortable, confident and safe.
And shoes are not just a fashion choice! All CRS facilities require closed toed shoes to protect your toes from being pinched or crushed in the machines or otherwise injured. The proper shoe can also help protect your feet and legs from a stress injury. However, the perfect gym shoe doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Consider buying shoes from last season – they will almost always cost less than the latest model and work just as well.
Commandment #3 Thou Shalt Never Skip a Warm Up or Cool Down
Your warm up before a workout is essential. Muscles are like rubber bands; if you stretch them too far while cold and unworked, something is likely to SNAP. To avoid injury, warm up those muscles by dynamic stretching, jogging at an easy pace, or just engaging in your activity at a slow pace (e.g. walking to warm up the muscles prior to running).
A proper cool down gradually reduces heart and breathing rates and helps prevent dizziness or possible fainting. Stretching after a workout is also a great way to improve flexibility.
Commandment #4: Thou Shalt Know Your Stuff
Nothing foreshadows a trip to the Health Center quite like misusing a machine. Always take time to read the instructions for the machine you are utilizing or ask the closest CRS employee – they will be happy to help you! CRS also offers free orientations to teach you how to effectively and safely use all CRS equipment.
Commandment #5: Thou Shalt Stay Alert and Aware
Hitting your stride or really losing yourself to your music can feel amazing – that is until you run someone down on the track or drop your weight on someone’s foot. Turning down your music a bit and taking a moment to be aware of your surroundings can make a big difference to your own safety and the safety of those around you.
Commandment #6: Thou Shalt Listen to Your Body
Your body knows what’s up! Pushing through a past injury or working out until you collapse will only hurt you in the long run. Everyone’s threshold is different, but it can be overcome by slowly and safely building your endurance.
Commandment #7: Thou Shalt Not Clutter up the Gym
Clutter on the gym floor becomes a dangerous trip hazard. This includes loose water bottles which should, if possible, be kept off the floor or as close to the machine you are using as possible. And, always, ALWAYS re-rack your weight.
Commandment #8: A Sick Terp Will Stay Home
When you’re sick, your body is using everything it has to help you feel better again. Diverting that energy by working out will only delay you getting back to 100%. Don’t be afraid to take a day or two off from the gym – you’ll feel better in the long run.
Commandment #9: Thou Shalt Keep it Clean
Always wipe down your machine before and after you use it. This will help protect you from those Terps who chose to ignore Commandment #8 and came to the gym sick.
Commandment #10: Thou Shalt Stay Hydrated
The most basic, but also the one of the most important guidelines for gym safety – drink plenty of water before, during and after your work out. You may have to hit the bathroom a bit more often but you will feel better overall.
Share with us! Do you think there should be an 11th Commandment of Gym Safety? Feel free to tell us in the comments.