As a New Year dawns, health clubs across the country typically enjoy a membership boost as eager souls sign up to make good on their resolutions to "get fit."
But time and time again, enthusiastic newcomers jump into a fitness routine whole-heartedly only to wind up getting hurt, deflating ambition and impeding progress towards attaining their fitness goals.
While the benefits of an active lifestyle are certainly admirable, leaping into a new exercise regime without the proper preparation can result in debilitating injuries and painful ailments.
As with any new activity- it's essential to take the proper precautions before starting. That means working-out at your own pace, getting a proper warm-up and warm-down, listening to your body and not overdoing it, wearing appropriate attire and knowing how to use exercise machines properly.
These tips will help reduce the likelihood of getting injured and increase the chances of a happily fulfilled New Year's Resolution:
Doctor's know best - Check with your doctor first to make sure you're ready for an exercise program
Golden rule: Start slow, and build on to it - Don't just start with two hour workouts, 30 minutes is enough for beginners
Rest in between days to allow your body to recover
Wear the right gear- Those fashionable "urban sneakers" won't cut it in the gym
Speak up- If you don't know how to use a machine, ask a professional how to do so - it's better to ask and avoid injury
Never ever wear one of those plastic suits - They can cause overheating and dehydration - and just aren't necessary
Avoid ankle weights and wrist weights - They can alter your normal movement patterns and cause injury
Don't ignore pain - Feeling soreness or pain after working out is normal- feeling pain during is not - STOP
Treat your body right- You treat your car right (hopefully) - so treat your body right and give it the food, water (lots of water), and rest it needs
Warm-up first, then stretch - Be sure to break a sweat before stretching. Stretching cold muscles can actually be harmful
Warm-down- End all workouts with a cool down of light cardio and stretching to stay flexible and to keep the blood from pooling in the muscles - which can increase soreness.
Mix it up - Doing the same routine can lead to boredom and injuries
Find a buddy for motivation and support
Make it fun- Try to do fitness activities that you enjoy. Getting in shape can be accomplished by all sorts of activities like dancing, swimming, hiking, etc...
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