Dangers of Exercise

Here we look at the dangers of exercise and how to train safely.

(After reading the dangers of exercise page we suggest that you go either to the exercises for health and fitness or to the exercises for weight loss section. You will find the links to those pages listed on our site map/index.)

Attachment to the idea that the dangers are frequent will prevent you from enjoying exercise and all its many benefits. Nothing in life is without risk.

Going for a walk is risky, but so is lying on the sofa. Pumping iron is risky, but so too is sitting in a chair.


Furthermore, not exercising is more fraught with risk than exercising properly.

If you want to begin to feel worse physically, just lie in bed inactively for several months.

That's really dangerous!

So, let's find out more.

Dangers of Exercise Overview


Our topic here is the dangers of exercise (not the danger of sport) and the best ways to exercise safely.

The frequency of injury with respect to a reasonable exercise program such as the one presented here on this free website is much less than the frequency of injury with respect to playing a competitive sport.

If you feel the need to engage in a sport, at least do it only as a reward for exercise, not in place of exercise.

There are several chief dangers in relation to ordinary physical exercise: sudden death, minor injuries, overuse, overtraining, and ineffectiveness.

Sudden death

Occasionally, a celebrity or a young, apparently healthy athlete will die during exercise. Occasionally, someone who is exercising will suffer a heart attack, stroke, or some other serious ailment.

Then the couch potatoes of the world say or think, "See? He shouldn't have been exercising. The dangers of exercise lead me to avoid it."

There is no way to prevent death during fitness or strength exercise, simply because there is no way to prevent death whether we are active or inactive. In relation to the risks of exercise, however, there are three preventative measures that we strongly suggest before you engage in any form of strenuous exercise, especially fitness exercise.

First, do not initiate an exercise program without the blessing of your own physician. Insist that he or she give you an exercise (stress) electrocardiogram (ECG), which should not be confused with a resting ECG or a recovery ECG.

That is not an ideal test, but, in the hands of a well-trained internist or cardiologist, it's an extremely good one. You should approach your predicted maximum heart rate quite closely during the test.

If you have to pay for the exam yourself or shop around for a competent physician to administer it, please do so.

In addition, if you have any worries whatsoever about the dangers of exercise or engaging in exercise discuss them with your physician before beginning to exercise.

Second, during regular intense fitness exercise, never permit your actual heart rate to exceed 85% of your predicted maximum heart rate.

We show you exactly how to do this in the section on intense fitness exercise. (The link to the beginning of the fitness exercise pages is listed at the bottom of this page.) Furthermore, we explain elsewhere on this website that it is not even necessary to do intense fitness exercise to achieve and maintain a healthful percentage of body fat.

Third when strength training, it's important to breathe properly and do potentially dangerous exercises such as bench presses in a power rack. We discuss this in our section on strength exercise.

(The relevant links are listed at the bottom of this page.)

Minor injuries

One of the dangers of exercise is that occasionally, you may strain a muscle, inflame a tendon or ligament, or sprain a joint while exercising.

If you understand what you are doing and focus correctly on what you are doing, this will happen infrequently, if at all. To prevent them understand what you are doing and pay attention. If they occur, use R.I.C.E. (rest-ice-compression-elevation) or just be patient.

With respect to the risks of exercise, it is possible, for example, to step into a hole while walking and sprain an ankle. Whenever the attention is separated from what we are doing, we are at risk in one way or another.

With respect to strength exercise, if you use a well-designed program, such as the one here on our free website, always warm-up correctly, and pay attention to performing each rep correctly, you'll never injure yourself seriously.

We explain in the strength training section of our website that this means, for example, never using momentum, not training too frequently, not ignoring pain, and avoiding large increases in resistance.

If you suffer an occasional minor injury during strength training, it's usually possible to train around it. Often active rest promotes healing. Don't let it keep you from training. Just go to the gym, don't do anything painful, and do your best.

Overuse is one of the dangers of exercise

These risks occur most frequently when repetitive fitness exercise is repeated too frequently. For example, someone who runs for five or ten miles a day is either stupid or addicted to running. Our bodies did not evolve to take that kind of abuse.

If you follow the program presented here on this website, you won't ever get, for example, a stress fracture from running since there is no running on this program! If you follow our program, it's unlikely that overuse will be a problem. If it becomes one, simply back off for a while.

Overtraining is one of the dangers

This is a common problem among strength athletes. Since the program presented here combines both fitness and strength training, this is a potential problem.

However, if you follow the recovery part of the program presented here, it is very unlikely you'll wind up overtrained. Please become an expert in avoiding overtraining! If you sense danger, just back off. When in doubt, rest too much rather than too little.

How are you able to tell if you are overtrained?

Its symptoms include: frequent colds; frequent minor injuries; persistent soreness and stiffness in muscles, joints, or tendons; loss of enthusiasm for exercising; inability to relax; sleep problems; loss of appetite; headaches; and a decrease in intellectual or academic work or performance.

Also, ensure that your life is balanced. Overtraining is most common among trainees who become attached to exercising. The purpose of exercise is to enhance life.

Remember that your ability to recover from exercise is limited. Too much exercise can be worse than too little. Though very beneficial, intense exercise stresses your internal organs like your kidneys, your liver, and your pancreas; it's important to let them recover fully.

By "listening" to your own body, you can avoid most of the dangers of exercise. By listening to your own body, you'll be able to determine a balance of fitness exercise, strength exercise, and rest and recovery that works well for you.

Ineffectiveness is one of the dangers

An exercise program that wastes your time is dangerous. Overtraining is caused by too much enthusiasm for exercise. Ineffectiveness is caused by undertraining, which is caused by too little enthusiasm for exercise.

Since people with ineffective exercise programs often talk about "toning" muscles, avoid listening to such talk.

The cure for ineffectiveness is intensity. Actually, this is good news. As intensity increases, duration decreases; as duration increases, intensity decreases. This explains why we are unable to sprint very long but we are able to run for a long time at a much lower intensity.

In other words, intense exercise must be brief.

Furthermore, to avoid the risks of exercise and overtraining, recovery time should be ample. Therefore, intense exercise should be relatively infrequent.

This explains why we recommend that you never do more than two intense fitness exercise sessions per week (and just one is fine) and that each work session last, at most, five minutes on the clock (and three is fine)!

The same principles about intensity apply to strength training. We recommend that you never do more than three intense strength exercise sessions per week (and just two are fine) and that each session last, if you are training alone, no more than about thirty or forty minutes clock-time.

Following the program presented here on this website, you'll spend under two hours weekly doing intense exercise! The only recommended supplemental exercise is mild fitness exercise such as walking, but we hope that you find moderate fitness exercise intrinsically enjoyable anyway.

Furthermore, you'll install the whole program slowly and progressively, which will allow your body ample time to adjust to it, thus minimizing physical discomfort.

In short, the dangers of exercise are not very fearsome. Furthermore, the dangers are infinitely preferable to the dangers of a lack of exercise. Be grateful every day for the privilege of being able to exercise.

Now that you understand the potential risks, we show you how to exercise effectively and safely. We discuss all the different types of exercise (from mild fitness exercise [such as walking] to intense fitness exercise) on other pages of this website.

Our exercise plans are excellent and they are free. We have exercise plans for health and fitness in addition to programs for weight loss.

See the following sections of our website for some examples:

1. strength/weight training,

2. core exercise,

4. walking for weight loss.

You will find the links to those pages listed on the site map/index.

If you want to personalize weight loss exercises, we show you how to tailor them to fit your individual circumstances. For adjusting weight loss exercises, see our Exercises for Weight Loss page. You will find the link to that page listed on the site map/index.

sidebar quotation from Philip J. Goscienski, M.D.: "It is dangerous not to exercise."


sidebar quotation from Montaigne: "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened."


Web pages to help you further

The strength/weight training exercise pages are listed in another section of our website. The link to that section is given on the main menu navigation buttons and on the site map/index.

In this the fitness exercise section of our website we have the following pages:

  • 1. Fat Burning Exercises (main page)
  • 2. Mild Cardio Walking to Lose Weight, Plan 1
  • 3. Mild Cardio Walking for Weight Loss, Plan 2
  • 4. Intense Cardio (Running or Alternatives)
  • 5. Exercises to Lose Weight Quickly
  • 6. Fat Loss Workouts
  • 7. Weight Loss Exercise Programs
  • 8. Exercises for Weight Loss, A
  • 9. Exercises for Weight Loss, B
  • 10. Exercises for Weight Loss, C
  • 11. Best Exercises to Lose Weight
  • 12. Benefits of Exercise
  • 13. Weight Loss Exercises (psychological overview)
  • 14. Dangers of Exercise
  • 15. Exercising Safely

You will find the direct links to those pages on our site map/index.

Meanwhile, here are two of those links:

Exercises to Lose Weight Quickly

Exercising Safely

Also see FAT BURNING EXERCISES, which is the first page in this section of our website. You will find that page link at the bottom of this current page.





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