By Darren Cady
Originally posted at Blue Ridge Now January 2020
Whether you are new to exercise or getting back into a routine after a break, it’s essential to start slowly and intentionally. With the following tips, you’ll set yourself up for success and reduce your risk of injury.
Note: Always consult with your physician before beginning an exercise routine.
Seek professional guidance: An exercise physiologist, certified fitness trainer or physical therapist can help you choose the right exercises for your body and health goals. He or she can also show you how to properly perform each exercise, so you reduce your risk of injury.
Start small: Begin with 10 to 15 minutes of exercise three days a week. As your fitness level improves, you can increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
Go low and slow with weights: It’s easy to hurt yourself by attempting to lift weights that are too heavy. Even if you used to lift a certain amount a few months or years ago, you should still start lighter to avoid injury. Once you can comfortably complete a set of 10 to 12 reps with excellent form, you can gradually increase your weight.
Take rest days: Prevent overuse injuries and burnout by scheduling in at least one day off from exercise each week. This allows your muscles to rebuild and recover.
Mix up your workouts: For the best fitness results, incorporate cardiovascular activity, strength training and flexibility exercises into your routine.
Get your heart pumping: Cardiovascular exercise helps keep your heart healthy and releases feel-good endorphins. Try running, walking, swimming, cycling, kickboxing, aerobics, dance or recreational sports. Work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Incorporate strength training: Strength training boosts your metabolism, strengthens your muscles and helps prevent injuries. Try weightlifting, resistance band training, Pilates, barre exercises, or bodyweight exercises, like pushups, lunges and squats. Aim to do two strength-training sessions weekly for each major muscle group, including your upper body, lower body and core.
Don’t forget to stretch: Stretching can help decrease muscle soreness and stiffness, improve your range of motion, and the risk of injury. Stretching is safest when your muscles are warm from exercise.
Wear the right shoes: Supportive, comfortable shoes are essential to a good workout. Choose the right pair based on your activity of choice, whether it’s running, walking, cross-training or hiking.
Stay hydrated: While there’s no specific amount of water that’s right for everyone, the American Council on Exercise suggests drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before exercising, 8 ounces of water 20 minutes before your workout, 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes while exercising, and 8 ounces of water within 30 minutes after you finish working out.
Listen to your body: If you feel pain, are lightheaded or have trouble catching your breath, stop exercising immediately and take a break. If you are very sore or tired one day, it’s OK to take a day off to rest and recover. Contact your doctor if you experience chest pain or difficulty breathing.
The benefits of regular exercise:
If you need motivation, here are some benefits of regular exercise: more energy, healthy body weight, increased self-confidence, better mood and mental health, less stress, better sleep, improved balance and coordination, lower risk of falls, less arthritis pain, and reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
With the right plan and mindset, you can reach your fitness goals and feel better than ever this year.
To find a primary care provider near you, visit www.pardeehospital.org.
Darren Cady is the director of Pardee Outpatient Rehab.