By Crystal D. Thomas, DPT
Are you returning back to fitness or chartering new territory? Perhaps you want to fit into your old clothes from high school or impress a date. Or perhaps you simply want to get into shape. Whatever the reason, when first starting out it’s important to remember these exercise rules.
Hydrate. When you work out, you lose water from sweating. Therefore, it’s important to properly hydrate before, during, and after a workout. About 1 to 2 hours before a workout, drink about 15 – 20 ounces of water, leaving 8 ounces for the last 30 minutes before a workout. Proper hydration ensures that that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout the body. This means that your muscles will get tired less quickly. Make sure to drink about 16 ounces within 30 minutes post workout to replenish your body with the water that it lost.
Don’t skip warm ups. The purpose of a warm up is to enhance performance and prevent injury. It should gently prepare your body for exercise by gradually increasing the heart rate, loosening the joints, and increasing blood flow to the muscles. A good warm up can include light jogging, jumping jacks or butt kicks to start off your exercise routine.
Don’t do too much, too quickly. Listen to your body. Trainers often want to push you to your full potential, but if an exercise starts to hurt or seems too hard for you, then stop. Try modifications or switch to a different routine for a few reps to give your muscles a break. There are plenty of exercises that enhance the human frame; don’t let emotional attachments to one movement derail your progress and steer you toward an injury.
Stretch. Stretching allows your muscles to move and slide in a smooth manner into their full range of motion. It also increases blood flow to the muscles and promotes flexibility. When you fail to stretch, the chance of straining or tearing a muscle increases.
Allow your body to recover. If your muscles are sore the next day after a workout, don’t push yourself with the same intensity. Engage in low intensity work out routines. Doctors recommend that you give your body a full 48 hours to properly recover and heal. This will actually help your muscles get stronger by giving them time to rebuild.
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