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Diving into New Year s resolutions
to get fit or lose weight may be haz-
ardous to your health.
"Consult your doctor before begin-
ning a new exercise programme" is a
common disclaimer on gym sign-up
sheets and workout equipment manuals,
and one more people could stand to
Doctors and physical therapists say
they often see patients during the early
part of the year with injuries-some of
them serious-stemming from New
Year's resolutions. Not only can such
injuries lead to expensive medical bills,
they may also waste cash shelled out
for fitness gear and gym memberships.
"People tend to get super excited
when they make their resolutions," said
Dr Derek Ochiai, an orthopaedic surgeon
in Arlington, Va. "But going from zero
to 60 in a workout regimen can set you
up for a lot of problems."
Injuries from exercise and exercise
equipment sent 459,978 people to the
emergency room in 2012, up 12 per cent
from 2011, according to the Consumer
Product Safety Commission.
Of those, 31,844 required hospital-
isation, up 34 per cent from the prior
year. And that's just a small slice of
exercise-related injuries-many more
consumers end up at their doctor's office
rather than the emergency room.
Erin W was off to a good start on
her resolution to regularly work out in
her Washington, DC, condo's gym, vis-
iting almost daily for a session on the
elliptical machine. "Being clinically obese
and out of shape meant I wasn't as
conscious of my form as I should have
been," said Erin, who asked that her
last name be withheld for privacy.
By February, Erin noticed a side effect
of her workouts. "There was this visible
muscle twitch in my knee," she said.
"It wasn't particularly painful, but it
Her primary care physician suspected
knee strain and recommended Erin
refrain from exercising for a few months
until the twitch subsided. "Not the
result I had wanted," Erin said.
Sprains, joint inflammation and other
overuse injuries are among the most
common maladies doctors see among
"It's usually one of the itises,' like
tendonitis or bursitis," said physical
therapist Tom DiAngelis, director of
operations at OrthoSport Physical Ther-
apy in Lynwood, Wash. Both are caused
by repetitive activities that aggravate
joints. In people who haven't previously
been active, the trigger could be any-
thing from too-lengthy runs to overhead
lifts of too-heavy weights, he said.
Usually, the problem is compounded
by people who take the phrase "no pain,
no gain" literally. "Human nature is to
think, work through it and it'll go away,"
said DiAngelis. But doing so can lead
to complications and chronic conditions
that take more than a few weeks' rest
Of course, there are also one-time
accidents, like someone who takes a
header off the treadmill, trips during a
boot camp sprint or tumbles attempting
a DVD exercise routine.
"They can have injuries where they
slip, fall and tear some cartilage in their
knee," said Ochiai.
Resolution-makers age 40 and older
might even be at risk for a heart attack.
"At low-exercise frequency, the week-
end warrior,' for example, the risk of
exercise triggering a heart attack is mul-
tiples higher than in people who exercise
regularly," said Dr Micah Eimer, cardi-
ology and medical director for North-
western Medicine Glenview Outpatient
Center in Glenview, Illinois.
Doctors say the best course to avoid
injury is to ease, rather than dive, into
new exercise routines, working your
way up to longer distances, heavier
weights or more advanced classes.
Other tricks to avoid sidelining res-
If you're exercising multiple times a
week, switch up activities, said DiAn-
gelis. "Our body needs rest and muscles
in different areas need rest from different
activities," he said. That lessens the risk
of overuse injury-and it's also what
makes you stronger in the long run.
It readies your muscles for a tougher
workout, said physical therapist Joe
Millen. who is also a personal trainer,
owns Impact Health in Palm Harbor,
Florida. Warming up might entail a
general low-level activity such as walk-
ing or stretching, or a slower, more con-
trolled take on whatever exercise they
plan to do.
Asking for help
"Get a trainer to help you, or even
just some advice from a gym employee
on how to properly use the equipment,"
said Dr Shari Liberman, an orthopaedic
surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital
in Texas. Bad posture or form while
exercising can up the risk of injury, she
said, as can using equipment set up for
someone of a different height.
Read your body
After a tough workout, it's common
(and normal) to feel muscle soreness
within 48 hours, said Millen. Feeling
pain sooner, or in the joint rather than
muscles, is a sign that something isn't
right, he said.
Liberman said ice, compression and
elevation-is a good rule to follow in
that case. "If it doesn't get better in a
few days, then I would go see a doctor,"
she said. (CNBC)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Doctors say the best course to avoid injury is to ease, rather than dive,
into new exercise routines, working your way up to longer distances,
heavier weights or advanced classes.
Beware of hazardous
"People tend to get
super excited when
they make their
workout regimen can
inflammation and other
overuse injuries are
among the most
doctors see among
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