Exercise Safety

Respiratory therapist Nickole Hackney offers some tips on how to exercise safely.

Exercise is a crucial part of good mental and physical health, and exercise safety is important to protecting yourself against injury. 

In This Article

Before you begin

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about exercise and what amount is safe for you to do. If you’ve been to urgent care, the emergency room, or had a hospitalization since the last time you exercised, talk to your healthcare provider before starting up again. 
  • If you wear oxygen normally, ask your healthcare provider if you should wear it during exercise too.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and well-fitting, non-slip shoes.
  • Don’t exercise on an empty stomach! This is especially important for people who have diabetes. 
  • If you have balance concerns, consider doing chair exercises instead. Choose a steady chair without wheels and with a cushion that does not move. 

During exercise

  • Remember to start every workout with warm-up exercises, like shoulder rolls or marching on the spot. Warming up helps get your body ready for exercise.
  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding using oxygen during exercise.
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Monitor your heart rate and oxygen level. It’s typically recommended to keep your oxygen level at 90% or higher during exercise, but your healthcare provider will tell you what your target level and heart rate should be.
  • Consider having a family member or friend with you, in case you need help. 
  • Remember to end every workout with cool-down exercises and stretching to help your muscles relax and prevent injury. 

When NOT to exercise

  • If you feel sick, have had a fever, or have been on antibiotics in the previous 48 hours, pause your exercise until you are fever-free for more than 48 hours. 
  • If you feel dizzy or lightheaded prior to exercise and your blood pressure is not in a normal range, contact your healthcare provider.  
  • If at any point you feel unsafe, stop and relax. Only begin again when you feel safe. And talk to your healthcare provider if you feel concerned about continuing. 
  • Exercise shouldn’t feel overwhelming and painful. So if you feel extreme shortness of breath, chest pain or pain that is unusual, and a change in heart rate or light-headedness, stop exercising immediately and call your healthcare provider. 
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