6 Guidelines When Starting a Fitness Program

Group exercise

Whether you are contemplating starting a new fitness program to lose weight or to get in shape, taking up a new sport or returning to an old one, contemplating a walking program to help your lower back, or just wanting to enjoy a more active lifestyle don’t sabotage your plan by doing too much too soon.

People who are physically fit, maintain their ideal weight, and exercise regularly have less back pain, fewer incidences of back injuries, and more fully enjoy a healthier, active lifestyle.

When Starting a Fitness Program
Avoid These Pitfalls to Success

Many well intentioned programs fail to achieve the desired outcome due to early phase injury, lost motivation, or some other disruption.

I’m not in the motivation business so you will have to find ways and other help to keep you going until your program is a well established habit. I do know that setting realistic goals and rewarding yourself when you achieve them works great for most of us. For me just seeing and feeling my progress over time is motivation enough.

 

Pulled muscle

6 Guidelines To Help You
Achieve Success

Regardless of your intentions or reasons for starting a fitness program, you can follow these simple suggestions to keep you injury free and that motivation alive as you  return to activities that have been put on hold or when embarking on a healthier lifestyle:

  1. Go slow. Take time to get reconditioned. Don't go full throttle before your muscles and joints have been conditioned. When you start out you may feel and be weak and unfit. The desire is to get quick results but the reality is that results take time. Start out at 50% of your ability or fitness level. Do brief workouts the first week or two and then slowly increase your time, intensity, and efforts. Allow three months for your body to acclimate to your workouts. After three months you should be conditioned enough that your workout efforts can be at a greater intensity level and longer periods of time.
  2. Drink plenty of water. Keep hydrated. This will help your muscles function better, keep you from overheating, and will also help keep your spinal discs hydrated and nourished. Stay away from sugary drinks; although, a good sport drink can help you meet your energy needs. Bear in mind, your body will burn fat for energy so try sticking with pure H2O and eat healthy protein for rebuilding and repairing your muscles, joints, and ligaments, and for restoring your energy reserves.
  3. Wear the right kind of shoes for your activity. If you are going to be walking purchase a good walking shoe. Use shoes designed for the activity whether it is tennis, jogging, or basketball. And by all means, don't be active on your feet wearing sandals, flip-flops, or other inappropriate footwear. They fail to meet the basic requirements for support, stability, and function. They will also predispose you to injuries in the form of sprains, strains, and falls.
  4. Allow for adequate recovery and healing. If you feel a little too sore or maybe slightly pulled a muscle take time to allow healing and recovery. Don't add insult to injury by not allowing injured tissues to repair properly before returning to your activity. If you are middle aged or older it will take you longer to repair, regenerate, and heal. Don’t push yourself too much but do push yourself enough that you make measured progress weekly.
  5. Get adequate rest. One of the biggest causes of injury is fatigue. Remember, as I stated in the previous paragraph, if you are not 20 or 30 years old anymore healing and recuperation will take more time then it did in your younger years. Six to eight hours of sleep should be adequate. Recuperation and building occur during sleep. You can also help to ensure optimal rest, recuperation, and tissue healing and building by assuming proper sleeping posture.  
  6. Do not allow an injury to become a chronic problem by neglecting early interaction if you're not getting better in a few days or if the injury seems to be more severe than just a mild sprain or strain be sure to get proper and prompt healthcare. Proper care and rehabilitation will help the body build strong, functional scar tissue. Poor scar tissue will result in weak repaired tissue. The outcome will be abnormal function and perhaps chronic pain.

One final comment: Always error on the side of caution. Just like the tortoise go slow and steady and you will be able to achieve your workout goals and enjoy the process as well.

When starting a fitness program, if you follow the above simple, common sense recommendations you will more likely enjoy your new sport or exercise program for years to come…injury free.

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