The Safety of CrossFit

fitness workout class stretch gymHigh-intensity workouts such as CrossFit are popular workouts, but are they for everyone? CrossFit combines gymnastics, endurance exercises, speed training, and strength training into one intense and short workout called workout of the day. These exercises are done with very short breaks in between. There is limited research about the safety of CrossFit in comparison to other types of exercise.

According to John Porcari, PhD, head of the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Clinical Exercise Physiology program, CrossFit is safe for an active person but may not be safe for a 45-year-old with heart disease risks. Dr. Porcari adds, “We’ve seen with a lot of these workouts people go flat-out as fast as they can, but then their form falls apart. You really need to be technically correct with a lot of these exercises or else you’re going to get hurt.”

Take these steps to make sure you stay injury free:

1. Consult a health care professional before starting a workout routine if you are not physically active.

2. Find a certified personal trainer who can teach you proper techniques. Ask about their credentials and references, and look for a trainer that is concerned about form and safety. Certifications to look for include NSCA, ACE, ACSM, and NASM.

3. Don’t overexert yourself, watch your form, and gradually increase the intensity of your workout.

Get Moving at Work

man as desk exercise ballMost Iowans (about 82%) are not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity weekly. You do not have to attend an exercise class to get your physical activity. Physical activity is the movement of the body that uses energy and may include activities you perform every day like climbing stairs, walking to and from your car, walking the dog, etc.

“Desk jobs” may be contributing to our low levels of physical activity. Making small changes to incorporate physical activity into your workday could add up and help you reach the recommended daily physical activity goal. Try incorporating these physical activity-boosting strategies into your workday.

• Walk to work if possible or park away from the main entrance or use an entrance that is further away from your office. By doing so, you’ll be able to get more steps in daily, helping you reach the recommended 10,000 steps daily, which is about five miles.

• Plan short fitness breaks (3–5 minutes) every hour. This will give you 24–40 minutes of physical activity by the end of your workday. Try these short fitness break ideas:

o Walk up and down the stairs or hallway.
o Take a short walk on your lunch break.
o Do some chair squats, jumping jacks or jog-in-place in your office.
o See if your employer offers a worksite wellness program.


Just ‘Tri’ It

Training for a triathlon is one way to add variety to your workout routine. A triathlon consists of swimming, biking, and running. You don’t have to be a star athlete; triathlons come in all shapes and sizes, from the sprint-distance triathlon to the Ironman distance. If you’re motivated and do the training, you can cross the finish line.

There are many small, local sprint-distance triathlons that are great for your first experience. Contact a local sporting goods store or running club to see if they have a list of races in your area. If you don’t want to complete the entire race, organize a relay.

For more information about triathlons, visit For more information about sports nutrition, visit ISU Extension’s Eat to Compete Sports Nutrition website.

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