Many people are currently motivated and eager to revamp their physical fitness routine, especially after watching a few hours of the recent Winter Olympics, or seeing their favorite athletes compete in local events. Reaching an optimum level of physical fitness is a great goal; however, those who haven’t exercised consistently since the day before Thanksgiving last year should ease into a new exercise routine. Doing so will reduce the chances of having an accident or injury that leads to a short-term or long-term disability and essentially turns their workout dreams into a living nightmare.

No one anticipates slipping, straining or falling during a regular workout, but injuries and disabling accidents occur all the time. The National Safety Council’s (NSC) Injury Facts says falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States and account for almost 8.9 million visits to the emergency room each year. And, the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education reports nearly one in three women and one in four men can expect to suffer a disability that keeps them out of work for 90 days or longer at some point during their working years.

When people have accidents or injure themselves while they’re working out, not only are they affected physically, but it can also impact them emotionally and financially. However, having disability insurance can put a person’s mind at ease during these unexpected events because it helps replace a person’s income when they can’t work due to a disabling injury or illness.

“We understand the impact an accident or injury has on a person,” said Jeff Spahr, president of WellPoint’s Life and Disability companies. “So, when it comes to providing disability benefits, we make sure we offer programs that provide more than a benefits check. We help people move beyond a disability by providing resources and programs that also help them improve their physical and emotional well-being.”

As people get ready to ramp-up their winter exercise routines, Spahr offers a few tips that can help people avoid experiencing a disabling accident or injury this season.

1) Set realistic goals – Don’t overdo it in the beginning. Set realistic and achievable goals, and be consistent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) each week and muscle-strengthening activities two days a week that work all of the major muscle groups (such as the legs, hips, back abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). Also, check with your primary care physician before starting an exercise program because they can help with setting goals that are safe and effective.

2) Warm-up, stretch and use good form – Experts at the CDC suggest doing dynamic stretching at the beginning of a workout and engaging in static stretching at the end. Dynamic stretching helps people prepare for an athletic activity, and involves movements that closely resemble what the body does when it’s engaged in a sport (such as light jogging, kicking, serving a few tennis balls, wide arm swings) but without the bouncing that often takes place in static stretching. Static stretching is used to improve flexibility and cool down the body after an exercise. It often includes stretching to a point of tension and holding the stretch for a few seconds.

People can also consider having a spotter who will watch their form, or working with a personal trainer to help improve their skills. Following the correct technique helps prevent injuries.

3) Choose the right shoes – Shoes made for running are very different from shoes made for playing basketball, tennis or hiking. The American Podiatric Medical Association suggests using a sport-specific shoe when engaging in a particular sport at least two to three times a week. In addition, the Mayo Clinic recommends runners replace their shoes every 300 miles they walk or run, or at least twice a year for those who exercise regularly. Those who exercise on a less regular basis can replace their shoes annually. Also consider going to an athletic store where the staff will evaluate the way a person walks and runs to ensure they purchase the correct shoes.

4) Stay hydrated – Think of the body as a car engine and water as engine oil. Exercising without proper hydration is similar to driving a car a long distance when it needs oil. Eventually, the car won’t go because it doesn’t have the oil it needs to run properly. Trying to drive the car can damage the engine. The same is true for exercising without being properly hydrated. Eventually, a person runs out of steam and/or becomes overheated, which can lead to injuries.

5) Mix it up and make it fun – People should choose exercises they enjoy. If running isn’t fun, consider following a brisk walking program. If climbing heights or skiing isn’t appealing, then consider weight lifting, cycling or swimming to get in shape. Try various exercises. Engaging in a variety of activities in moderation helps prevent injuries due to overusing the same set of muscles.

6) Get disability insurance – Many people underestimate the chances of becoming disabled for a period of time. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, 64 percent of wage earners believe they have a 2 percent or less chance of being disabled for three months or more during their working career; however, the actual odds for someone entering the workforce today is about 25 percent. In addition, the U.S. Social Security Administration says about 100 million workers are without private disability income insurance.

Although unexpected injuries and accidents can occur when people are working out, this shouldn’t keep a person from doing their winter workouts. Following the tips listed above will help diminish the chances of experiencing a disabling injury. However, in case the unthinkable happens, people should consider getting disability insurance from companies such as WellPoint so they have access to the resources and programs that will help them during the difficult times so they can return back to living healthy and productive lives.

About WellPoint, Inc.

WellPoint (NYSE: WLP) is one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies. We believe that our health connects us all. So we focus on being a valued health partner and delivering quality products and services that give members access to the care they need. With nearly 68 million people served by our affiliated companies including nearly 36 million enrolled in our family of health plans, we can make a real difference to meet the needs of our diverse customers. We’re an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We serve members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; and as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only), Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.), and Wisconsin. In most of these service areas, our plans do business as Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New York service areas). We also serve customers in other states through our Amerigroup and CareMore subsidiaries. To find out more about us, go to

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