There is no question that regular workouts can help you live a longer, healthier life. However, too many people end up sabotaging their workout routine by not following some basic safety tips, resulting in injuries that may end their routine almost as soon as it begins. By following these simple tips, you can not only keep your workout safe, but actually make it more effective as well.
Start Out Slowly
You do not want to start your exercise routine too hard, too fast or too soon. The best tip for beginning a workout routine is to start slowly with light to moderate exercise for no more than 20 minutes for three days per week. As your strength improves, increase the length of the routine and the number of days you exercise gradually in order to avoid injury.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Warm up exercises, such as stretches, increase the blood flow to your muscles, loosening them and increasing the flow of oxygen. This also increases body temperature, which benefits muscle contractions. Warm up should cause perspiration but should not be exhausting and should be between five and ten minutes long. The cool down after a workout is designed to decrease the aerobic intensity and return your body to a state of rest. For example, after a jog, gradually slow to a walk in the last three minutes of your run to get your heart rate back to normal and follow this with stretching the muscle groups used during the workout.
Eat and Drink Before
Although you do not want to workout after a heavy meal, your body needs nutrition in order to get the most out of the routine. Eat a piece of fruit or a protein bar within two hours of your workout in order to provide your body with some fuel. In addition, be sure to drink up to 16 ounces of water in the two hours prior to your workout and be sure to drink water throughout the routine to replenish fluid lost due to perspiration.
Another mistake many people make when starting an exercise routine is to workout seven days per week. Your body needs rest days in between workouts in order to recuperate from the strain placed on muscles, tendons and joints during your routine. Your immune system does a pretty good job of repairing those strains, but only if you give it time to catch up. By not planning rest days, you risk injury as your immune system cannot repair small sprains or tears. In addition, areas that are strained can become flooded with fluid, reducing their ability to move properly and cause further injury. One way that some athletes address rest days is by working different muscles on different days, taking one day per week away from all exercise.
Although you don’t have to dress like a fashion model when you hit the gym, you should wear clothing that fits the exercise you plan to do. To keep yourself cool and dry, choose workout wear that offers wicking, or draws the sweat from your body. When exercising in cold weather, layer your clothing. One of the most important things to consider is the type of shoe that is best suited for your workout. If you plan to start running, choose shoes designed for running, but remember that those shoes may not be the right ones to wear in the gym for weight lifting.
These tips can help you prevent injury no matter what type of workout you choose.