The Importance of Physical Activity
Here are some things to think about before beginning or increasing your physical activity:
- Wear the right clothing. For example, wear properly fitted walking shoes and bright clothing if you are walking. Dress for the weather. Wear a hat and gloves when the temperature drops.
- Wear any protective gear that is needed for your sport. For example, wear a helmet if you are riding a bike or knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet if you are in-line skating. Some active sports may require a mouth guard or other special equipment. Consult your coach or a fitness expert if you have questions.
- Always carry identification if you are away from home. Slip a piece of paper with your name, address and phone number in your pocket in case of an accident. Consider taking your cell phone with you. Let someone know where you will be.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Always walk in well-lit areas. Consider walking, jogging or skating with a friend or family member.
- If you wear earphones, keep the music turned down so that you can hear traffic and others around you. Stop at street corners and look both ways when crossing. Use the sidewalk instead of the street whenever you can.
- Be sure to take water with you if you will be out for 30 minutes or more.
- Stretch before and after exercising to reduce muscle pain and injuries.
- Set realistic goals. If you have a medical condition, for example asthma, diabetes, heart disease or back problems, check with your health care provider or physical therapist for their recommendations before starting a new program.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. Use a broad-spectrum (protects against both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- To help prevent insect bites, use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing) and wear long sleeves, long pants and socks. Products containing permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear which can remain protective through several washings. Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin, and they can protect up to several hours.
- Stop the activity and get medical help at once if you have chest pain, feel faint or light-headed or have trouble breathing.