Know which exercise programme to follow when you go to a gym

STEP UP: Communicate with personnel at your gym. Pic. Tsheko Kabasia. © Sunday World.
STEP UP: Communicate with personnel at your gym. Pic. Tsheko Kabasia. © Sunday World.

This article deals with injuries that can be sustained during training at a gym.

This article deals with injuries that can be sustained during training at a gym.

People who go to gyms are mostly just ordinary people who have never engaged in exercises before, or even if they have, it might not have been well structured or organised exercise.

They go there hoping to achieve their goals, which might either be weight loss or body building. In these two categories the risk of injury is similar.

For instance, you might come across an overweight woman who has just given birth, or a fit man who wants to develop his muscles as quickly as possible, without taking into consideration that it is a goal that can only be reached after a certain period of time. They therefore run the risk of getting injured.

It is very important to first visit a medical doctor to get a general body check-up, where diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, heart problems and others can be screened.

Once you have received a clean bill of health, you can join the gym. This does not mean that people with diseases may not join, they just need to take extra care to not aggravate their health problems.

The biggest challenge at the gym is not knowing where to start or which exercise programme to follow in order to reach your goal.

The ideal scenario is to first communicate with the personnel at the gym. Discuss your goals with them and find out how they can help.

It is appropriate to communicate with a personal trainer, but unfortunately some gyms don't offer such services. If you cannot find a personal trainer at the gym, you need to consult your physiotherapist, who can help you to draw up an exercise programme that can deal with your needs.

lWhat is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure results from an increased pressure of blood in the arteries as it is pumped by the heart in order to supply the body and all its organs with blood.

The normal blood pressure on average is 120-80, but it sometimes goes higher than this figure because of ill health.

People who are overweight and don't get much exercise are at risk of developing high blood pressure. Sometimes pregnant women also experience this problem.

Up to 85 percent of cases of high blood pressure can be treated without drugs if the person is willing to change his lifestyle and diet. In societies where salt is limited, high blood pressure is rare.

When combined with high blood pressure, too much caffeine, alcohol and smoking greatly increases your chances of suffering from heart disease or a stroke. Stress is a main factor in high blood pressure.

Individuals suffering from high blood pressure need first to change lifestyle, reduce intake of alcohol, stop smoking and sign up with a gym or engage in some exercise programme at home.

l Diabetes mellitus:

Commonly known as diabetes, this is a condition where the body's ability to handle sugar is impaired and blood sugar levels become too high. There are two main forms of diabetes - juvenile diabetes and adult onset diabetes.

Juvenile diabetes is because of a deficiency of hormone insulin from birth, which helps to keep the blood sugar level in check.

Adult onset diabetes usually starts in middle age or as we grow older. Quite often adequate amounts of insulin are produced, but the body becomes resistant to its effects. Adult onset diabetes is associated with a diet that is too high in sugar, alcohol and saturated fats. It also develops because of a and lack of exercise.

It is therefore very important for a diabetic person to exercise or join a gym.

lCommon injuries that occur at health gyms:

There are a variety of injuries, as it is with the sporting community, including ankle sprains, knee sprains, groin injuries, back sprains and muscle strains.

Some injuries are precipitated by some of the machinery or exercise equipment that is used in gyms.

For instance, a treadmill commonly causes ankle and knee pain because of the shock that is absorbed by these joints as one runs on the treadmill.

The metal strip that you run on sends ground reaction, which gets transmitted up through the joints of the knees and ankles as the bones come into contact with each other inside the joint.

l Weight lifting:

Most people kill themselves by lifting weights that are too heavy for them, just because one of the other participants can lift them.

Before you attempt to exercise with weights, you first need to identify how much weight your body can take. For example, if you can lift an amount of weight 10 times, but you cannot lift the same amount of weight on the 11th try, this the weight you can use to train.

Use this formula: three sets of 10 repetitions of that weight with five minutes rest in between sets.

Should you overexert yourself with weights, chances of straining or tearing your muscles increases.

l Aerobics:

People who are overweight and wish to join an aerobic class should first start with short duration, low impact exercises before moving to high impact exercises to avoid spraining your ankles and knees.

The class should be divided into beginners, medium and high intensity, so your goal becomes moving to the next class.

Take note of how you control and pace your movements.