6 tips to safely ease into a new fitness routine
Before jumping headfirst into a new fitness routine to start the New Year, it’s important to ease into an exercise regime to avoid losing motivation or risking injury.
“When people begin a new exercise program, they often push their bodies too far and put themselves at risk for injury,” says Dr. Paul DeFrino, orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “The common notion that exercise must be difficult or painful to be beneficial is simply wrong. Moderation is the key to safety.”
Dr. DeFrino advises that safe exercise programs start slowly and gradually, building in intensity, frequency and duration. He says this holds true for someone starting off as a couch potato or hopping into an old routine after an extended break.
“People who push too far too fast are prone to injuries like ankle sprains,” says Dr. DeFrino. “The body needs to recover fully in between workout sessions. Without a period of rest, minor aches and pains will build up, muscles and ligaments will be strained and injuries will occur.”
Dr. DeFrino recommends the following six tips to transition into a new workout routine to avoid muscle strain or injuries:
- Develop a balanced fitness program. Make sure your routine includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility.
- Start with low-impact cardio. Workout beginners should build up their endurance and stamina with exercises that are easier on the joints like walking, cycling or swimming. Slowly add intensity in the workouts.
- Warm up. Jog lightly in place a few minutes before your workout to increase your heart rate and loosen up other muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.
- Use proper equipment. Wear shoes that provide good support to prevent ankle rolls. Replace your shoes when they wear out.
- Set a schedule. Create a weekly workout schedule that includes rest days.
- Take your time. Only do what feels comfortable to you during a new workout. Take your time with new moves and drink plenty of water.
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.