There are all sorts of different situations that lead a person to take an interest in working out. Perhaps you’re here because your doctor recommended it. Perhaps you’ve finally got some time to yourself now that the kids are in school. Perhaps you’ve never done anything athletic outside of gym class, and just want to change that. Whatever your reasons, congrats on making a great decision!
Motivation is often very high when you’re just starting out. This can be great, but also dangerous at times. Being excited is important, but being so excited that you don’t do your research first can lead to injury, burnout, or a loss of interest that puts you right back where you started.
So let’s start out on the right foot together. Here are your Dos and Don’ts:
- Make sure you’re healthy enough to take on a workout before beginning a new routine. Check with your doctor.
- Research and invest in the appropriate equipment (within reason). Many workouts can be accomplished in shorts and sneakers, but others might require something special. Weight lifting gloves, yoga mats, joint supports, etc.
- Stretch and hydrate before beginning each workout. Give yourself the best possible start to prevent injury or dehydration.
- Warm up. Believe it or not, this is different from stretching. Rather than running out your front door and straight into a 5K, start slowly and give your joints and muscles a chance to wake up.
- Keep track of your progress. This is a great source of motivation as you set and reach new goals.
- Take breaks. Your body needs time to recover from each training session. You can alternate muscle groups (arms one day, legs the next), but you should still take days off altogether.
- Sleep. Adequate and restful sleep is essential to a healthy workout routine. Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours per night.
- Ignore your body. If something hurts, stop. You’ll be able to feel the difference between a good, healthy muscle burn and actual pain. Pay attention to those feelings, and adjust accordingly. Overtraining can lead to injury.
- Starve yourself. Working out to lose weight is a healthy option, but pairing workouts with an overly restrictive diet can lead to muscle loss and become counterproductive. Remember to feed your body with protein for muscle repair, carbs for energy, and plenty of vitamin rich foods for overall health.
- Push for unreasonable goals. Changes in your strength and appearance will happen, but by degrees. Overly ambitious goals can lead you to feel disappointed and give up. Adjust your goals, and stick with it. You’ll see improvements all the time.
- Take unnecessary risks. If you are going for a hike, tell someone where you’ll be, and when you expect to be back. If you’re lifting heavy weights, do so with a spotter. Never run or bike at night without reflective clothing.
Your workouts should be a source of fun. Will they be exhausting? Yes. Will they push you to new limits? Absolutely. But your workouts are all about you. By making yourself and your health a priority, you have already made the best possible decision. Just follow these simple guidelines for safe, and energizing workouts, and you’ll be seeing results in no time!