While playing sports and staying physically active is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, all physical activity carries some risk of injury. The more bodily contact that's involved in your activity, the higher your chances of accidentally getting hurt. Fortunately, the wide-ranging benefits of staying fit to outweigh the risks. The key is to utilize sensible habits for injury-prevention that can help you stay safe while having active fun.
Getting out there and staying healthy while exercising begins with eating nutritionally dense foods. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to recover from strenuous activity. A healthy diet reduces the risk of overuse injuries, which happen more often than injuries from intense contact. Nutritious food also helps you build strong bones and muscles that can support regular physical activity. Unrefined carbs, like whole grains, and water-rich fruits and veggies make an excellent foundation for a healthy diet. Your body needs complex carbohydrates to form glycogen, which is a substance burned as fuel when you're working out. Your body also needs plenty of water to ensure physical activity is safe and fun. Hydrate before every workout to avoid dizziness, heatstroke or other dehydration symptoms.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is another crucial component of helping your body recover from physical activity, especially if you're playing sports. Have you ever noticed your body has aches and pains after a night without adequate sleep? Quality sleep is a period of necessary restoration that keeps the body in good condition. Those aches and pains, along with overall fatigue, are symptoms of not giving the body enough opportunities to make repairs at the cellular level. Being sleep-deprived can also noticeably affect your balance, response time, focus and energy levels. All these factors increase your risk of having an accident and getting injured during physical activity, especially if you're playing a contact sport.
Wear Safety Gear
The essential way to avoid potentially serious injuries is using properly fitted safety gear, especially if there's a risk of falling. If you do have an accident, wearing protective gear can help reduce the severity of the situation, and it might even save your life. Depending on the sport or activity, your safety gear could include a mouth guard, protective eyewear, pads and guards at important joints, protective footwear and, crucially, a well-fitted helmet that is designed specifically for your activity. The startling truth is that 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries every year, so it’s vital to wear the proper safety gear when playing contact sports in order to prevent serious injuries.
Regular Stretching and Warming Up
Developing a stretching habit is great for improving flexibility and supporting an active lifestyle. Many knee and ankle injuries happen because of tight muscles and poor range of motion at the joints. A light warm-up before vigorous physical activity is another excellent practice for preparing your muscles to stretch and move without damage. Try five minutes of light exercise such as doing jumping jacks or jogging in place. By increasing blood flow all over the body and warming up your muscles, you're less likely to experience an injury.
Whether your favorite activity is a winter sport like skiing or a team sport like basketball, it's great to get out there and enjoy exercise. With a common-sense approach to safety, you can enjoy physical activity with minimal risk of injury.
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