It is the start of the new year, which is the time when many people try to become healthier, ditching the Christmas chocolates in favour of a membership at the gym.
Indeed, exercising more is one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions, with half of those surveyed saying this was their goal for 2020, according to You Gov. This was followed by eating more healthily (43 per cent) and losing weight (37 per cent), both of which are also positive lifestyle changes.
However, if you are among those embarking on a new exercise regime, whether to shed those Christmas pounds or to improve your overall fitness this year, it is important to ease yourself into it so you don’t cause strain to your body.
Here are some tips on how to begin exercising without causing injury.
- Get A Personal Trainer
This is not to say you’ll need a personal trainer for the entire year, but it is a good idea to hire an expert in the field at least in the beginning. They can introduce you to an exercise program that is right for your age and fitness levels, ensuring you don’t push yourself too hard, which could put you off exercise in the long-run.
Personal trainers can teach you how to work out so you don’t strain muscles; they can give you safety advice; and can show you different routines that will have the maximum impact, with minimum stress on your body.
- Warm Up And Cool Down
If you decide not to hire a personal trainer, one rule you have to abide by, no matter what type of exercise you choose to do, is to always warm up and cool down.
This needs to take place with every workout, as it gears your body up for exercise, warming up muscles, loosening joints and increasing your heart rate gently.
Dr Eric Berkson from Harvard University says: “A proper warm-up can improve blood flow to the working muscle and reduce stiffness, potentially lowering the risk of injury.”
A good way to warm up includes doing dynamic stretches for five to ten minutes, as these increase flexibility.
It is also a good idea to do some light cardio for a few minutes – such as jog in one place or do some skipping – as this will get your heart rate going slowly and loosen up your muscles.
After you have exercised, do not forget to cool down. This brings your heart rate back to normal, and helps to stretch muscles after a workout.
- Start Slowly
If you have told yourself to start running in 2020, don’t leap straight into training for a marathon. You need to start slowly before increasing the intensity, speed, or duration of the workout, and how often you do it.
Your fitness will begin to pick up over time, at which point you will be able to set yourself greater challenges, such as training more frequently or for longer.
People who particularly struggle with this are those who expect to be as good at exercise as they were years ago. However, a long period of not training is almost like starting again for your body, so do not have unrealistic expectations of what you can achieve. By pushing yourself too soon, you are more likely to experience injuries.
- Vary Workouts
To avoid too much strain on one muscle group, it is important to train different parts of your body when you exercise. Therefore, runners should add swimming, weight training or rowing to their weekly workouts, so they are not putting too much pressure on their calf muscles or hamstrings, and give these a chance to rest between running sessions.
- Eat And Drink Well
You might not appreciate that eating a well-balanced diet and keeping hydrated is essential for preventing injuries, but as it helps restore your body with the nutrients it needs, this will aid recovering between workouts.
Having carbohydrates will replenish energy stores; protein will repair muscles; and water will replace the fluids you lose when sweating. What and how much you need to eat or drink will depend on your exercise, but Very Well Fit recommends having a snack one to two hours before, and a solid meal four hours prior to, the workout, as well as a replacement drink one hour afterwards.
Eating correctly will keep you energised for your training, helping your muscles to work effectively and efficiently, so they don’t tire out and injure themselves.
If you do pick up aches and pains during your new health-kick, do not worry. Physiotherapists in Maidenhead can help with any sports injuries you might develop.