By Denise Austin, America’s Favorite Fitness Expert
If you’re on a mission for better fitness, good for you! Once you’re on a roll, nothing can stop you — well, except for an injury. Whether it’s a simple muscle pull or a more serious sprain or bone fracture, getting hurt could sideline your fitness routine for days or even weeks. Don’t let it happen to you! Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to help prevent injuries and keep yourself healthy and active. Here’s what you should keep in mind to protect your body.
Warm up first, and end with a stretch. No matter the workout, it’s always smart to warm up your muscles with a few minutes of light cardio — high marches, a few jumping jacks, or a quick walk to get your heart rate up. And a good stretch after your workouts, when your muscles are nice and warm, will help boost flexibility and strengthen your tendons, reducing your risk of developing tendonitis and other injuries.
Make sure you’re doing it right. If you don’t have correct form when you’re doing those crunches or squats, you’re risking injury — not to mention the fact that you won’t be reaping all the benefits from your workout! When you’re learning a new exercise, try to do it in front of a mirror, so you can watch your form and make sure you’re moving exactly the same way the video or instructor shows you. Step-by-step instructions are also super handy!
Don’t go overboard. When you’re excited about a new fitness regimen, it’s sometimes easy to push yourself too hard or overestimate what you can do. It’s much safer to start out small, and work your way up! For instance, increase the speed or add minutes to your walk or jog, and gradually add repetitions to your strength exercises. Slow and steady wins the race!
Stop if it hurts! Forget those old “no pain, no gain” sayings — getting fit shouldn’t hurt! If something’s hurting, stop and take a rest for a while. Listen to your body, and respect your limits.
Choose good gear. It’s wise to invest in good-quality exercise gear — and you don’t have to break the bank! Choose the right equipment for the activities you love to do: Maybe it’s a set of dumbbells, a good yoga mat, or a heart-healthy walking kit that’s right for you. Think about safety as well: A helmet if you’re bicycling or skating, or reflective clothing if you’re exercising outdoors.
Wear the right shoes. You shouldn’t go running in high heels! But seriously — there’s a reason why certain athletic sneakers are called running shoes, walking shoes, or cross trainers. Depending on how you’re moving your feet, your shoes will need to provide different kinds of support for your feet and ankles. So consider investing in a good pair of shoes that suits the activities you like to do!
Rite Aid recommends visiting your health care provider before starting any weight-loss or exercise program.