Get off to a slow start – The worst mistake most of us make is trying to do too much too soon. If you don’t exercise regularly, being too ambitious at the beginning will do two things, both of them bad: First, you’ll wind up aching all over, and second, you’ll never stay with it.
As you become more physically fit, you can increase your pace but, don’t try to do it all in one day. Remember, exercise should make you feel good – it isn’t a new way to beat yourself up.
Give your muscles a little TLC – Make sure your muscles are warmed up before you start exercising. First use stretching exercises to loosen up tight muscles, then warm up with ten minutes of exercise that works the muscles in the same ways as your activity. A brief rally for tennis players, jogging in place for runners, or some practice swings and slow running around the bases.
Train like the pros – Professional athletes train every day, and they vary hard exercise days with easy ones. Over-exercising won’t get you in shape faster, but it will damage muscles and tendons. A vigorous 30-minute workout every day will make you look and feel better than a grueling three hour session once a week.
Change your routine – Exercise doesnt always mean calisthenics. If you vary your exercise, you won’t get bored and you’ll exercise all your muscles. A week of activity might include bike riding, aerobics, swimming, jogging, tennis, skiing, or hiking.
It’s all in the timing – If you exercise outdoors, pay attention to the weather. During the summer, don’t exercise between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. when the sun is at its peak. Prolonged exposure without a sunscreen is dangerous. To avoid sunstroke, heat stroke, dehydration and sunburn, plan activities for mornings or evenings when the temperature drops. A hat provides a lot of protection.
Use the right equipment – Sometimes injuries happen because the wrong equipment is used. For example, tennis elbow can be caused by using a racket that’s too heavy, having too much tension on the strings, or using heavy balls which increase the force against the racket.
Runners should invest in the best shoes they can afford, otherwise performance will suffer and the possibility of injury will increase. For bicyclists and baseball players, using the right equipment will not only prevent injuries, it can save your life.
Forget “no pain, no gain” – Unless you’re in training for an Iron Man Triathlon, don’t force yourself beyond your limits. Exercise shouldn’t just improve you physically, it should lift you up emotionally and reduce stress. Make exercising fun – bicycle or run with friends, take the kids hiking. And don’t make your tennis or softball game too competitive. Play to win, but most important, play because you love the game.