Monday, July 13, 2015

Health risks at the gym

Having been inspired to run next year's 10k in my home town, my thoughts are turning to my cardiovascular fitness. It's not great. And my opportunities for running are limited to the late evening due to my family. So I've found a late-opening gym nearby, with treadmills. I can manage indoor running as long as I'm listening to music at the same time (fast music, of course).

But what risks may I face at the gym?



There's always the chance that the equipment may malfunction, particularly if many people are using the machine each day causing gradual wear and tear. It's important to stop using any equipment that has cables starting to fray, or doesn't appear to be operating correctly, and report it to a member of staff. Plus there is the risk of falling if there are objects such as hand weights, bottles, or keys in the way, or slippery floors near water.

Working out too hard is another hazard. Starting with a low fitness level or any special risks or conditions, such as a bad back, high blood pressure, or recent surgery, can cause more harm than good. A trainer could help with creating a safe exercise programme. Trying to lift too much weight, using poor technique, or stretching incorrectly can lead to sprains and strains. I discovered this for myself yesterday after skipping with a rope for the first time in about 20 years!

First aid for a sprain is Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE), and of course telling a member of gym staff exactly what happened and how.

A further risk is infection from possible fungi, bacteria, and viruses in wet areas such as showers and around swimming pools, or even dried sweat on equipment. Frequent hand washing is always a good idea, and staying at home if you have a cold or flu.

Let's hope that doesn't happen and thwart my best efforts.

Kate Richards

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