7 Gym Safety Tips for Healthy Workouts

Gym equipment

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Most people exercise at the gym to improve their health, but being aware of potential risks is also crucial to health and safety. Learn how to prevent common accidents that can sideline your workouts. With these tips, you can keep yourself safer.

Common sense goes a long way when you're at the gym. It is essential to maintain a hygienic space and wipe down your equipment. Most gyms have disinfectants available for wiping down equipment. But there are other ways to stay safe and healthy while getting fit.

Get a Yearly Health Check-Up

Medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can sneak up even on active people, so don't skip your yearly check-up. Most gyms and exercise programs will request or require a check-up to ensure you don't have a health problem that could be made worse by certain types of exercise. But you'll have to remember to make the appointment yearly.

Discuss your fitness plans with your doctor, especially if you have a preexisting condition or are on medications. Most often, your doctor will applaud your decision to get more active. But you may be given some restrictions or cautions if you have specific health problems or risks.

Do a Warmup and Cool-Down

A proper warmup can get the blood flowing to your muscles and prepare you for more exertion.

As part of your cardio exercise session (treadmill, elliptical, or stationary cycle), start at a leisurely pace and light exertion for three to five minutes before increasing your exertion to your target level. After your main session, take another couple of minutes to cool down at a lower exertion level.

For strength training and other exercise activities, warm up with three to five minutes of walking on a treadmill or walking in place will help get the blood flowing to your muscles to perform better.

For any workout, it's wise to do some active stretching and mobility work before beginning to better prepare your body for the work ahead.

Increase Gradually

Your body will experience a great training effect if you gradually increase your time, intensity, or reps of an exercise. A great body isn't built in a day, and doing too much too soon will increase your risk of injury and complications.

Use proper progression in your exercise training:

  • For cardio exercise, increase the time and work on your form before increasing your speed and exertion level.
  • For strength training, start with lighter weights and increase reps and sets before you increase weight. Re-evaluate your program every 4–6 weeks to consider a change.

Use Good Technique

How you do the exercise is critically important for getting good results and preventing injury. If you are lifting weights in a way that strains your lower back, eventually, you will feel the pain. If you use bad posture and overstride on the treadmill, you will get aches, pains, and overuse injuries. Working on core stability, positioning, and posture will help prevent injuries and sore muscles.

Consult a Personal Trainer

While there are apps and written instructions you can use to get the proper technique, nothing beats having an expert eye on your form. Use a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to ensure you make the moves correctly. It's a good investment, and a personal trainer can be the best safety accessory.

A trainer will watch your form to ensure you do the exercise correctly and not straining your lower back or problem joints. A trainer will increase your exercise duration and intensity in a step-wise fashion, giving you the best training effect with the least risk of injury. A trainer will also act as a spotter during weight lifting.

Use Equipment Wisely

One of the most significant risks of a gym accident is tripping over something lying around. Clear the area of objects you may stumble over during your moves. Also, respect that equipment is meant for knowledgeable adults.

Treadmills, exercise bikes, and weight machines all have moving parts with the risk of pinching and crushing your fingers and toes if you aren't paying attention. Most gyms do not allow children (no matter how well-supervised) in the workout area.

Lastly, make sure pins and collars are used correctly on weight machines and barbells. Be aware of who is working out around you, and what motions they are using so you can stay out of their way.

Train With a Partner

It is not a good idea to work out alone in a gym. It would be best if you always had a friend or staff member available in case of an injury or health emergency. Working out with a partner can give you two sets of eyes on any developing problems.

Encourage each other to drink, breathe fully and correctly, and clear the workout area of obstacles. Be each others' safety buddy as well as a workout buddy.

If you participate in weight lifting, your partner should be able to spot you—that is, they should be able to grab the weight if your muscles fail during an exercise. Many gyms require that those lifting weights have a spotter readily available. This is especially common for those lifting barbells who may drop the weight on themselves when they try to lift one time too many.

A Word From Verywell

Sticking to a workout routine and getting in plenty of physical activity is an excellent way to improve and maintain your health. Gyms offer plenty of equipment and support for all kinds of training activities. However, there are risks involved with using heavy duty weights and equipment.

Following the above safety guidelines and recommendations will improve your safety and reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries. As always, discuss any new training plan with your health care provider in advance.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.