Nothing puts fitness goals on the back burner like an injury. So it’s important to play it safe when you’re working out—especially if you’re just starting a new activity. Here are some tips from several fitness experts, interviewed by the Washington Post, to help you break a sweat safely:
- Winning warm-ups. Warming up gets your blood flowing and preps your muscles for exercise. This is especially important as you age, since muscles and tendons tend to get less responsive. A solid warm-up should last at least ten minutes and include gentle dynamic stretching and range-of-motion exercises that gradually increase your heart rate.
- Active awareness. Stay mindful of your posture and form while exercising. Good form is especially important when doing drills like dead lifts and other hip hinge movements which require you to keep your back straight for support. Also, be aware of your body’s limitations and go easy on troublesome areas to avoid injuries; for example, people who sit at a computer all day could have tight chest muscles, hunched backs, or shortened hamstrings and may need to take extra care when using those muscles.
- Slow starts. If you’re at the beginning of your fitness journey, it’s important to start slow. At first, plan to exercise three times a week for one to two months to get into basic shape. Body-weight exercises, light resistance, low repetitions, conditioning of the core and other stabilizing muscles, as well as some cardio are a great way to start. Then, if you’re interested in moving on to something more intense, like heavy weight-lifting, work up to it over six months to a year.
- Balanced body. Your body’s muscles are all connected, so it’s important to avoid weak links that can lead to injury. For example, weak back muscles could lead to rotator cuff issues, and a weak core and hip section could lead to torn or inflamed Achilles’ tendons or sprained ankles. Aim for a balanced workout that strengthens muscle groups evenly.
Source: Washington Post