Starting a fitness routine can feel daunting, especially if you’ve never been one to work out. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your workouts and prevent injuries, as well as some pointers that will enable you to stick with your routine.
1. Choose activities that you actually like. The fastest way to deflate your motivation and become bored is to pick exercises that you can’t stand. If you have no idea what interests you, find out what types of classes are taught at your local gym, and sign up for something you’ve always wanted to try.
2. Before beginning an exercise routine, discuss your plans with your physician. This is especially important if you are obese or if you have had respiratory, cardiovascular or mobility issues in the past. Your doctor will let you know if you are healthy enough for physical activity and will define limitations if you do have any health problems.
3. Get yourself fitted for high-quality shoes. They don’t have to be flashy or even terribly expensive, but shoes that fit your feet properly and provide ample support are important for working out. Choose shoes that fit the type of exercising you plan to do; running necessitates a lightweight shoe, while dance needs flexible shoes. Visit a specialty store if you need help choosing shoes.
4. Take it easy at first. You don’t have to run a marathon on your first day! Ease into whatever exercise you choose, and don’t be afraid to modify exercises based on your ability. You will become stronger as you work out, but being patient at the beginning is essential for preventing injuries. A bit of soreness is normal, but if you find that you are too sore to move after your first workout, you may want to slow down a bit.
5. Try lots of different exercises. Even if you have your heart set on a particular activity, changing up your routine is a great way to prevent boredom. New types of workouts also confuse your muscles, which become accustomed to doing the same workouts over and over again.
6. Listen to your body. Drink when you are thirsty, eat something healthy when you feel hungry, and slow down when your muscles tell you to. Part of becoming fit is learning to listen to–and accept–such cues from your body. If a particular muscle feels overworked or strained, allow it to rest.
7. Keep an eye on your workout intensity. By wearing a heart-rate monitor, you can find out how fast your heart beats during your workout and how many calories you have burned. This is especially important if you are also counting calories, since you will have a more accurate picture of how hard you worked. Varying the intensity of your workouts is also a good idea; you may mix some sprints into your work, for instance.
8. Work on your flexibility. Becoming more flexible gives you a wider range of motion and makes exercises easier to do. It also reduces the risk of injuries. Yoga, pilates, stretching and other exercises are all great ways to enhance your flexibility.
9. Cool down after a workout. Gentle stretching after your workout gives your muscles a chance to relax and prevents the build-up of lactic acid. This may help to prevent soreness after a workout.
There’s no reason to fear the process of getting in shape with these tips under your belt. Just remember that everyone starts somewhere, and with consistency, you will be well on your way to a fitter, healthier lifestyle.