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Preparing for Exercise

Exercise helps you relax mentally and improves your physical health. By following the safety measures below, you can enjoy the greatest possible benefits from exercise.

1. Choice of clothing

The principle of clothing selection is to ensure comfort and freedom of movement. The clothing should be made of absorbent and breathable materials, such as cotton. You should also take weather conditions and the exercise venue into consideration. In cold weather, wear clothes with moisture wicking properties as the inner layer; for the outer layer, put on a jacket or appropriate warm clothing that can be taken off easily. During hot weather, wear a thin T-shirt or vest, and bring extra clothes for change if necessary.

2. Choice of sports shoes

Choose correctly sized sports shoes that fit your toes, heels and foot shape. Shoes that are too tight or too loose will cause blisters on your feet. In addition, the chosen shoes should be suited to the exercise type and venue.
You should choose lightweight running shoes with soft, flexible uppers and cushioned soles that can lessen shock to the feet as you land. For indoor court games, choose a pair of shoes that have good traction to prevent slipping. Sports shoes for outdoor use should be durable and well cushioned to prevent your feet from becoming over-fatigued.

3. Choice of sports socks

You should always wear socks with your shoes. Otherwise, abrasion injuries will occur when your feet rub against the inside of the shoes. Your socks should fit properly. Wearing socks that are too tight will affect your blood circulation. If the socks are too loose, they will take up more space in your shoes and cause discomfort to the feet. Your sock choice should vary from exercise to exercise. For example, you should wear socks that are more breathable when running.

4. Be aware of what you eat and drink

Do not exercise on an empty stomach, or you may faint due to exhaustion. Likewise, do not exercise when you are too full, as this could lead to indigestion. To feel more energized, you should have something light to eat or drink before doing exercise, such as toast with jam, skimmed milk or fortified oatmeal. Bring along sufficient water to replace the body fluids you will lose through perspiration.
Diabetics should take extra precaution. Discuss your choice of exercise programme with your doctor so that he can advise you the proper adjustments for diet and medication. It is advisable to exercise one hour after meal to prevent hypoglycemia. Bring along sugary foods that can be easily absorbed by your body, such as sugar cubes, so that you can quickly bring your blood sugar levels back to normal if hypoglycemia occurs.

5. Warm-up exercises

The main purpose of doing warm-up exercises is to gradually prepare your body for physical activity from the resting level. Effective warm-up exercises require only five to ten minutes. They speed up your heartbeat, raise your body temperature, increase the blood circulation in your body and muscles, mobilise your joints, improve your exercise performance and prevent injuries.
The principle of warming up is to keep the movements simple and basic. Warm-up exercises should be of light to moderate intensity. Start slowly, then pick up the pace until you breathe faster and your heart beats faster. Some choices are light jogging, swinging your arms at your sides or dynamic stretching, such as arm circles and high knee stretches. After that, you can do static stretching.

6. Be aware of safety

While exercising, you should be aware of your limits and advance gradually. If you are unwell with, for example, a fever, cold or flu, do not over-exert yourself. If you feel dizzy, nauseous or short of breath during the exercise, stop immediately and consult a doctor when necessary.
Learning proper exercise techniques can reduce the risk of injury. In case of accident, stay calm and handle it appropriately. If you have any doubts, consult a doctor as soon as practicable.
Inclement weather may affect your safety. When participating in an outdoor physical activity, stay tuned to the weather forecast issued by the Hong Kong Observatory and make appropriate arrangements.