Q: I’m ready to start a new workout routine but my body is not used to lifting weights. How can I make sure I don’t hurt myself?
A: The trouble with growing older is that we’re not as limber as we used to be! However, with proper routine and a plan, you can prevent injuries while exercising. The most common injuries are muscle strains and back pain.
The biggest way to avoid injury is to warm up before exercise. This gets your blood moving and tells your body to get ready for the workout! It can be as simple as a few minutes of brisk walking, bike riding, or jumping jacks. Stretching is also an important part of a fitness routine but I recommend spending a few minutes stretching after your workout. It can be more harmful than beneficial to stretch cold muscles as you put yourself at risk for a muscle strain. Dynamic movements will raise your heart rate and bring your body temperature up. Stretching movements will help lower the heart rate and begin cool down.
When planning your workout program, choose your exercise regimen wisely. There are many factors that go into creating a safe exercise program. Think about your goals, how many days you will exercise each week, the length of time you’ll spend exercising, and the level of intensity your workouts will be. You’ll want to “ease in” and build strength and stamina over time. The goal is to push your body gradually. Some soreness will be expected but the old saying “no pain, no gain” is not always true! Listen to your body and know your limits.
I like to recommend cross training to my clients to keep the workouts both interesting and safe. For example, if you workout five days a week you should vary the workouts to allow different muscle groups time to recover and rest. On Monday for example, you focus on lower body while Tuesday you lift upper body. Then Wednesday is a cardio day followed by lower body on Thursday and upper body on Friday.
The biggest take-a-way is that slow and steady wins the race! Talk to your doctor and ask which types of exercise may be best for your goals. If you’re not educated on proper form, technique, and how to build a workout routine find a knowledgeable personal trainer that can assist you. Your body will thank you!