Using January as an opportunity to set new fitness goals? You’ve made the right decision! Exercise will improve your mood; help raise energy levels and even improve the quality of your sleep. The only thing to be mindful of is not pushing yourself too hard at the start.
The good news is almost anyone, at any age, can exercise safely and enjoy the many wonderful benefits. Injury can affect anyone engaging in physical activity. After all, even the most dedicated athletes spend time on the sideline with muscle strains. What you can do is lessen this risk and give yourself the best chance to stay safe and develop long-term fitness habits without interruption.
To help get you started, here are some key tips that will help you stay safe while you exercise.
Begin Slow and Ramp Up
Resist the temptation to just jump in and push your body to the limit. Instead, begin slowly and allow your body time to adjust to the change. If you’re beginning a strength training routine, it’s vital to begin with light weight at a slow and controlled tempo. This will help you nail down the correct form for movements while allowing your body to prepare for the stress of strength training. With cardio, set small and achievable targets and get into good habits before pushing for longer distances or faster times.
Warm Up and Cool Down
From years of working as a physiotherapist I can tell you a lot of people skip their warm up and cool down. They might have arrived from the gym after work and want to get through their workout quickly, or they might not realize the importance. A good warm up prepares the body for exercise by gradually increasing heart rate, loosening joints and increasing blood flow to the muscles. It’s key to avoiding injury. Cool down involves gradually decreasing activity at the end of the workout, allowing your body temperature and blood flow to return to normal levels. Stretching during your cool down helps reduce build ups of lactic acid, which causes cramping and stiffness.
Have a Workout Partner
A workout partner is an excellent idea for several reasons. They will help you remain accountable to your workout plan; they will encourage you and they’re going through the same work you are. They’re also there to keep an eye on your form if lifting weights, and they’re with you on runs in case you suffer an injury. It’s always advised to work out with a partner if you can.
Most of us aren’t drinking enough water. And, if you’re working out regularly, you’re going to need to increase your water intake. Exercise causes us to sweat and lose fluids. Replacing these fluids is key to repairing tired muscles and preventing injury. Get into the habit of carrying a water bottle with you and regularly sipping throughout the day. Even if you don’t feel thirsty while working out, get into the habit of drinking water anyway. Your body will appreciate it!
Discuss with a Medical Professional
A vital point to note is if you have any existing medical conditions, discuss your exercise and physical activity plan with a doctor. If at any time you feel light headed, dizzy or suffer discomfort in your chest. STOP the activity and consult with a medical professional.
Ready to Help
Whether you need help treating injury, or are looking to put together a killer workout program, VanCity Physio is standing by to assist. To find out more, or book an appointment, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.