Exercise: Safety & Effectiveness

Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, we'll explain the importance of exercise in a healthy life. We'll provide an overview of popular exercise regimens, like team sports, running, swimming, and cycling, which can be used alone or together.

Why Exercise?

After a long day, it might be tempting to go home and plant yourself in front of the television, or order a pizza with friends. However, these habits can perpetuate an unhealthy lifestyle. Doctors have long recommended moderate exercise to lower stress, prevent depression and anxiety, and decrease risk of disease. However, many people see exercise as too much work and are hesitant to start. But, there is definitely a type of exercise for everyone. The key is finding something you enjoy that will safely help you meet your goals.

Team Sports

Team sports are a fun way to get active and develop healthy social interactions. Even if you're not at the collegiate level, many colleges have recreational teams that anyone can join. Sports, like touch football, soccer, basketball, hockey, and softball, all have local leagues that adults can join as well.

Basketball is a great form of exercise that can be played at any hoop with a ball and some friends.

For safety, all sports have their own protective gear. For example, hockey and football players wear helmets and pads. It is important to wear all the proper safety equipment for the sport you choose. As with all physical activities, consult your doctor before starting, especially if you have any preexisting conditions. You should also take it slow at first. Doing too much too soon can result in injuries.

Some sports require more gear than others to stay safe, like these pads for hockey goalies.
hockey player

Sports that involve more running, such as soccer and football, tend to burn more calories and will increase your cardiovascular health. Sports in which you use your arms, like football, hockey, or softball will also increase upper body strength.


Running is an amazing way to torch calories, improve your lung capacity, and strengthen your heart and legs. However, running can be hard on your joints due to the repetitive impact. If you're planning on starting to run, it's important to start off with short distances.

Running can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors.

A good rule of thumb is to increase your mileage by only 10% each week. That means if you run 5 miles one week, you should only be running 5.5 miles the next week. By increasing your mileage slowly, you'll give your body time to build the small stabilizing muscles needed to prevent injury. You'll also need the right shoes. Many running stores will let you try on shoes and run in the store. An expert can watch you run and help you choose the right shoe for your stride.

When running, strength training is also important, as are rest days to recover. Strength training will improve your leg muscles' endurance, allowing you to run longer without fatigue. Mix running with other non-impact activities, like swimming, to help you build muscle while giving your bones a break from the impact.


Although we usually picture ourselves lounging out at the pool, swimming can be quite the cardiovascular workout. Since there's no impact, it's perfect for people with preexisting injuries. Swimming makes you stronger too, and it works both the upper and lower body. It's pretty easy to start a swimming routine. Start easy, doing just a few laps each trip to the pool, and you'll soon find yourself building new muscles swimming dozens of laps each day.

Lap swimming is a great way to burn calories and build strength.

Make sure you don't swim alone, either at the pool or in the ocean. Having a buddy with you can prevent swimming related accidents, like drowning. Also, make sure you know the depth of the water before you dive in to avoid head injuries. If you're swimming outside, make sure a lifeguard is on duty, and obey any signs related to swimming. Some areas may look calm, but can have dangerous riptides underneath.

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