You often hear that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to eat a balanced meal, get enough rest, and exercise at least three times a week. It’s ideal to stay active. However, you could end up doing more harm than good if you don’t approach your exercise regimen with care. If you’re not careful, you could end up destroying your body with exercise. Here’s how you can protect yourself.
Warm up and cool down
Don’t just jump into your exercise routine right away. Always make sure to stretch and warm up your muscles before you exercise. This way, your workout won’t be a shock to your body. Once your workout is over, you’re not done. Don’t forget to do cool-down exercises so that your body can return to its normal state. Cooling down helps to gradually bring your heart rate back to normal. One way to cool down is to take a walk.
Don’t overdo it
If you haven’t exercised in awhile, you might be tempted to hit the gym and go full speed ahead. Being away from your regular exercise routine could fill you with a desire to get back in shape as soon as possible. Or you might exercise regularly, but you’re curious about a new type of exercise. Either way, be very careful. Whether it’s your first time trying a new sport or activity, or you’re just getting back into it, take it easy.
The New York Times published an article about Christina D’Ambrosio, who decided to take a spin class for the first time. She told the author that she found the class to be harder than she expected. Within two days, she had very bad leg pain and felt nauseous, and her urine turned dark brown. She was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a rare but life-threatening condition often precipitated by extreme exercise.
Wear the right gear
Your main goal shouldn’t be to look cute at the gym. Proper attire is a must if you want to prevent an injury. The best way to get the most out of your workout without doing harm is to make sure you’re outfitted with all the necessary gym gear. Putting on improper footwear, for example, could result in serious injury. You should also replace footwear regularly. If you walk or run as part of your exercise program, the American Heart Association recommends replacing your sneakers every 300 to 500 miles.
Get enough rest
Are you barely able to keep your eyes open? That’s a problem when it comes to getting a safe and effective workout. Another way you could hurt yourself is by exercising when you’re tired. Sometimes it’s best to skip your early morning workout instead of pushing yourself and then sustaining an injury because you weren’t rested. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your mental performance, according to a study published in the journal Sports Medicine. It’s best to wait until you are fully alert before attempting to exercise.
Get proper instruction
Doing an exercise move incorrectly can cause pain and accidents. If you’re unsure of the proper form or technique when trying out a particular exercise program, it’s time to call an expert. Don’t be embarrassed if you need a little help. A certified personal trainer can show you how to properly do certain exercises to help you avoid injury. They can also develop a safe workout program for you, so you can keep up the momentum between sessions.
Get proper nutrition
Regular exercise and proper nutrition go hand in hand. You won’t get the most out of your workout if your diet is lacking. You can’t expect to eat a high-fat, sugary, and salty diet and still be at your best. A healthy dose of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats is the best way to stay fit. Also make sure to watch your carb intake. Consuming too many simple carbohydrates, some of which tend to be full of sugar, can lead to complications such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Listen to your body
If you feel discomfort or significant fatigue, it’s time to cut back or stop whatever it is you’re doing. Give your body time to recuperate before resuming the activity. Although a popular saying is “no pain, no gain,” this isn’t a wise or safe way to go about your exercise program.
The International Fitness Professionals Association recommends discontinuing the activity you’re engaging in as soon as you feel something is wrong. “By the time your body feels pain, the injury is already significant. Damage to your body’s tissues occurs well below your body’s ability to perceive pain. The moment something ‘doesn’t feel right,’ stop!” said the experts on the association’s website.
Once you’ve run your new exercise program past your physician, you’re on your way toward living a healthier lifestyle. Here are some resources to help you exercise safely.
- Harvard Health’s 10 Tips for Exercising Safely
- University of California’s Exercise Safety and Guideline Recommendations
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