By Stephanie Norton-Bredl and Bruce deJong
For The Courier-Herald
February is a great time to work toward the goal of getting back into shape and experiencing your best year ever. What stops most of us from achieving our fitness goals are mistakes. Here are five common fitness mistakes to avoid:
Trying to complete a workout at someone else’s fitness level rather than the level that accurately reflects your ability. If the level is too high, you may sprain, strain, tear or tweak a muscle, ligament or joint that will need several months to repair. If the level is too low, you may become discouraged or disinterested with not seeing progress. For example, setting a goal of completing 10 pushups per day is not realistic and healthy if the last time you completed five or more pushups was in junior high during the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.
Creating an unrealistic expectation by declaring a goal of going to the gym five or more days a week when your schedule will allow only one day. Take some time to really think about the demands for your time and energy and consider when you have capacity to work out. Select a day and time that works best for you and stick to it for 21 days to establish a positive routine. Actually completing one workout per week is a better investment than wishing and wanting to complete five or more per week, but never completing any.
Skipping the pre-workout warmup and post-workout cool down and stretching. Many of us struggle with this one, especially when it feels like the warmup and cooldown take more time than the workout itself. Try to achieve flow with your workout by gradually speeding up the intensity as your body warms up and gently slowing it down at the end. Invest the time to bring your heart rate down after a workout and stretch your muscles to improve your flexibility and stay limber for your everyday activities.
4. Wearing poor shoes and socks. Exercising with improper footware may cause or aggravate blisters or foot, knee, hip and back pain. A great-fitting pair of shoes and socks which are designed for the type of exercise you plan to do is the best fitness gift you can give yourself. Have you heard the expression, “Happy feet are good for the sole”?
5. Always doing the same type of exercise at the same intensity. An effective exercise program should include attention to improving strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health on different days to promote healing and recovery. Varying the type, frequency and intensity of your workouts will help you stay interested and provide a balanced exercise routine.
No one sets out to make mistakes. These five mistakes can be avoided by being informed, paying attention and knowing what works best for you.
Always consult with your heath care provider if you have any concerns about starting an exercise routine and best wishes for your continued success.
Stephanie Norton-Bredl is the health and wellbeing director at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bruce deJong is a group exercise instructor at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at email@example.com.