2004-07-09 / Columnists

Notes On Consumer Affairs

By Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer

Audrey PhefferAudrey Pheffer

Every day, we are bombarded by the media telling us the importance of losing weight and getting in shape. We are shown fit and trim bodies on magazine covers, in advertising, in television shows, and in movies. Even though health professionals have been touting the health benefits that exercise brings, the dreaded summer war-drobe may motivate people to join a gym more so than a health professional. Here are a few tips to keep you safe while you pursue your fitness goals, whatever your motivations may be.

When shopping for a gym membership, you should ask if any of their personnel have been trained to perform first aid procedures and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also known as CPR. Exercise facilities are not currently required to employ people who have been trained and certified in adult CPR and first aid in New York. To address this, I introduced A. 6821, which would require health clubs to have at least one employee in attendance at all times who has been trained and certified in adult CPR and first aid. New York already recognizes the importance of having first aid and CPR certified personnel on hand by requiring various employees of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company and coaches of high school athletic activities to be certified in first aid and CPR procedures. A trained health club employee would be an invaluable asset and would increase the level of personal safety available to the health facility’s clientele. Injuries can and do occur, and with equipment such as swimming pools, saunas, and stair steppers, anything can happen. In 2002 an estimated 3,286,856 injuries occurred in the United States due to unintentional overexertion alone, and sudden cardiac arrest claims approximately three lives every seven minutes.

Many fitness related injuries can be prevented. Warm ups, stretches, and cool downs are generally recommended, and are said to reduce the likelihood of injury and increase your flexibility and range of motion. Also remember that the road to fitness should be a gradual one; start out slowly, in order to prevent injury, increase the intensity of your workouts as your fitness level increases. If you are unable to have a conversation while you are working out, your workout may be too intense, and you may want to decrease the intensity. so that you are either breathing hard or slightly out of breath but still able to maintain a conversation. If you feel chest, arm, or jaw pain, tightness in your chest, dizziness, faintness, or severe shortness of breath, you should immediately stop your workout and seek immediate attention. Always remember to consult your physician before beginning a new fitness program. Your doctor can help to determine what activities would best suit your needs.

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