If you’re still going strong with your 2018 fitness goals, congratulations are in order – according to some studies, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February and only 8 percent of New Year goals are ever achieved. While faltering will power, the temptation of the dessert cart and genetics are also to blame, there’s something else that may derail resolutions: an exercise-related injury.

Most people take up exercise in order to take care of their bodies and live a longer, healthier life. However, jumping into a new workout routine without proper precautions can not only postpone your fitness goals – it could land you in the hospital.

It is easy to imagine how jumping into long-distance running or high-intensity interval training can cause injury. Obviously, the harder you push your body without building an appropriate foundation, the more vulnerable you are to injury. However, even simple exercises like jogging, yoga and strength training can be dangerous if approached incorrectly.

How to stay safe

According to a round-up of experts by NBC News, there are five steps that can help you protect your body while working toward your fitness goals:

  1. Talk to an expert BEFORE there’s a problem. It is wise to spend some time with a personal trainer or physical therapist before beginning any strenuous exercise program.. If you have any existing injuries or health concerns, this step is particularly important.
  2. Listen to your body. What works for your trainer or gym buddy may not work for you, and it’s better to go a little easier on yourself than push yourself too far and cause an injury. Not even the best trainer knows more about your well-being than you do.
  3. Don’t always follow the pack. In group exercise classes and training sessions, it’s easy to get swept up in a mob mentality and push yourself further than is safe or practical. Pay attention to your inner warning light and avoid activities that don’t feel right.
  4. Build a foundation. If you’ve never done a certain kind of exercise before, always start slow – no matter what your fitness level. Even super-active people hurt themselves when trying intense exercises for the first time.
  5. Speak up for yourself. Your health is your responsibility. If you’re concerned that you may be hurt, don’t go along with the rest of the class because you’re self-conscious. Excuse yourself, take a break and seek any medical attention you might need.