Top 10 Ways to Prevent Injury When Exercising From Home

Available for Interviews: Dr. Mimi Secor

Dr. Mimi Secor DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, is a board-certified Nurse Practitioner specializing in Women’s Health for over 40 years. She is a sought-after national speaker and consultant has been featured in numerous local and national media outlets. Dr. Mimi is also a fitness and health advocate, and is passionate about helping women to lose weight and feel great, and is the #1 international bestselling author of Debut a New You: Transforming Your Life At Any Age.

What Dr. Mimi Secor could say in an interview on 
How to Avoid Injury When Exercising at Home:

I’m a doctorally prepared nurse practitioner specializing in health/fitness and I’m also a 65-year old competitive bodybuilder. I’ve experienced various exercise-related injuries so can speak from experience on this topic. Typical of most people these days, I have also had to creatively reinvent my home exercise program during this pandemic. Here’s what I know:

    • Because people are working from home more these days, whether indoors or outdoors, there is a greater chance for injury.
    • A survey last year reported that knee pain was up 471% and sprained ankles were up 267%.
    • These statistics indicate there is a problem with people working out on their own without guidance on how to start a home exercise program and how to safely progress.

Top 10 Ways to Prevent injury

    1. Consider hiring a trainer or physical therapist (virtual or in-person), especially if you have limitations, or are over 50 years old. They can advise you on activities that are better suited to your age, level of fitness, and physical challenges—especially for weightlifting/resistance training.
    2. Wear properly fitting, good-quality sneakers (ideally less than 6 months old).
    3. Warm-up gradually. Stretch briefly before and/or more thoroughly after exercising (don’t skip this, especially if you are over 50). Stretching helps improve flexibility, which declines with age if you do not stretch regularly (minimum 3 times a week for at least 5–10 mins).
    4. Start slowly, with low intensity and a short duration of exercise. Then increase the duration and intensity gradually (5 min longer per workout is a good rule).
    5. Drink lots of water, get adequate sleep, eat a healthy diet, especially protein after exercise (optimal for muscle recovery and growth).
    6. If exercising outside, don’t forget sunscreen and consider avoiding the sun during the hours of 10 and 3 pm. Avoid extreme heat, especially if humid. 
    7. Avoid high-impact exercises like running, jumping rope, aerobics, avoid yoga if shoulder problems/conditions. 
    8. If over 50, consider low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling.
    9. Stop exercising if you feel dizzy or weak or have severe chest pain or difficulty breathing, see your healthcare provider, or dial 911 if your symptoms persist or are severe.
    10. If you are over 50, and/or have any chronic health problems, before starting to exercise, see your healthcare provider.

Other Aspects to consider

Space and Exercise Equipment
    • Inadequate space can definitely increase the risk of injuries. Falling off cardio machines, bumping into things when lifting weights, falling as a result of bumping into/or tripping over gym equipment that is inadequately spread out are all possible consequences of working out in a small space. 
    • Adjusting the incline of a treadmill too steeply is also a common cause of injury as is setting the speed too fast which can lead to accidents such as twisting an ankle or falling off the machine entirely, which can result in serious injury or even death. Over the years, I have witnessed several people fall off cardio machines in hotel gyms. 
    • Improper fit is a common cause of injury for both indoor and outdoor bicycles. 
    • Using old equipment that doesn’t function properly, such as a jerky rotation on an elliptical machine or stationary bicycle. Machines must be regularly maintained and often home equipment is not.
Activities with higher injury rates
    • High-impact exercises. Aerobics, running, dancing (like Zumba or other dances that involve twisting), especially for adults over 50. Low-impact exercise is preferred for many people who are older and who may have health challenges like obesity. 
    • Jogging. Jogging can be stressful on feet, ankles (sprains), back but especially knees and hips, and is particularly stressful on joints, especially for first-time runners. Women may be particularly susceptible to knee pain from jogging and running due to possibly having a wider Q angle (wider hips causing knee bones to meet at an angle rather than evenly).  
    • Walking. Walking is less stressful on the body than jogging or running but, perhaps surprisingly, if done improperly can also cause injuries. Maintaining upright posture, a tight core, wearing proper footwear, and having a soft heel-toe gait are all important aspects of correct walking technique. Walking on an even surface is also preferred and reduces the risk of injury as well. 
    • Bicycling. Bicycling is low-impact so generally is less associated with injuries, however, they can still occur and be serious. The bicycle must fit the individual correctly and this requires a professional to determine what size frame is appropriate. In addition, the seat and handlebars should be properly adjusted at the same time. Find a knowledgeable bike technician at a reputable bike shop and find out what size frame is right for you. Aside from these considerations, a host of injuries can occur including wrist, knee, back, and neck pain—not to mention injuries resulting from falling off bicycles or other unfortunate accidents.
    • Weightlifting. This exercise offers many benefits but can result in a host of injuries, especially home-based programs. This is because most people do not know the proper techniques for lifting and they also tend to use more weight than they should. Weight-lifting is best undertaken with supervision from an expert like a certified trainer or physical therapist, so they can instruct you in proper technique and then watch as you perform the movements. One wrong movement and can result in serious injuries and pain that can last for many months. 
    • Yoga. Shoulder and wrist injuries are the most common problems associated with yoga. Although many older people gravitate toward yoga for the great health benefits, they should be very careful and consult with the instructor about making modifications to avoid injuries. Beginner yoga classes are best for most people who are starting out. 

Final Thoughts

Avoid the adage, “no pain, no gain.” Working through pain is a flawed concept and can potentially worsen the problem. Stop exercise(s)  that are causing pain, until the pain resolves. If the pain is severe or persists (more than a day or two) see your primary care provider. DO NOT CONTINUE EXERCISING WITH PAIN. This only delays healing and may contribute to creating a chronic problem. 


Interview: Dr. Mimi Secor.

Dr. Mimi Secor, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, is a Nurse Practitioner, Educator, Health/Fitness Advocate. She is also a popular National Speaker and Consultant, educating advanced practice clinicians and consumers around the country and the world. She is the author of the #1 International bestselling book, Debut a New You: Transforming Your Life at Any Age.

Jo Allison
Managing Editor
Director of Public Relations
Success In Media, Inc.

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