May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and it’s a great time to improve your fitness and activity level.

Being physically active improves the performance of the lungs, heart, and muscles, and also has benefits for your emotional health.

The team at Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center has advice for how to stay safe and avoid injury while reaping those rewards.

Spring is a time when many people start thinking about getting more active. Unfortunately, that can equate to emergency medicine providers seeing more patients with sports-related injuries.

During May’s National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, the team at Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center is reaching out with advice on how to prevent injury.

Geretta Hollins, Community Outreach and Injury Prevention Program Coordinator for burn and trauma services, said staying active is important for good health.

“Everyone knows that physical activity is good for you. If it’s a brief walk or a pick-up game of soccer, any amount of physical activity is beneficial to our health,” she said.

“Physical fitness improves the performance of the heart, lungs, and muscles. And, since what we do with our bodies affects what we can do with our minds, fitness influences to some degree qualities such as mental alertness and emotional stability.”

Hollins said it’s important to prioritize safety when exercising, and offered some simple tips to keep you safe no matter what your activity of choice.

Warm up slowly

Don’t overdo it when starting a new activity or getting back into exercise after a long delay.

Wearing proper shoes and clothing helps you avoid injury. If your shoes start to show wear and tear, it’s probably time to replace them.

Start with low-intensity exercises and increase your activity as you get stronger. By letting your body adjust to the new routine, you’ll avoid soreness and injury and increase your likelihood of sticking with it.

Take time to stretch and strengthen your muscles

Warming up and cooling down are important parts of every exercise routine.

To warm up, jog in place for a few minutes or gently rehearse the motions you’re about to do to increase your heart rate and loosen up your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Stretch carefully with controlled motions, and don’t stretch to the point of pain.

When cooling down, slow down and ease into lower-intensity motions before stopping totally. You should be breathing normally and no longer sweating after your cool-down.

Wear proper fitting shoes that provide balance and stability 

Look for shoes with non-skid soles and plenty of cushioned arch support. When your shoes start to show wear and tear, replace them.

Dress properly for your activity and setting. Wear comfortable, loose clothes that let you freely perform your activity. If you exercise outdoors, light-colored clothing is best for hot days, while removable layers are a good option for cooler weather.

Make sure to warm up and cool down before and after exercise. Gentle stretching is a good way to prevent injury.

 Listen to your body, and set realistic goals

If you’re very tired or experiencing pain, don’t push yourself to the point of injury.

Schedule rest days and take the day off when you’re feeling especially tired. If you experience fatigue, significant muscle soreness, or pain, it is better not to exercise that day.

Learn more!

Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center is available 24/7 to provide lifesaving care for critically injured patients and to educate the community on injury prevention.

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