The Dos and Don'ts of Exercising Smart

We all know how important daily exercise is for our health and overall well-being. That doesn't mean you need to work out for hours and hours each day. But you do need to think about exercising smart.

Does your exercising enhance your life or cause you problems? The safest fitness plans begin slowly and build to a steady pace, so you can learn proper form, prevent injuries and gradually develop your endurance. As you gain strength and stamina, ramping up the intensity of your routines will come naturally.

Here are some important dos and don'ts for getting the most from your moves without hurting yourself:

  • DO include time for warming up and cooling down to improve your performance
  • DON’T stretch before exercising, save it for after you cool down to protect your muscles
  • DO use the proper gear, from shoes to clothes to equipment, to ensure comfort and safety
  • DON’T allow poor form – focus on aligning and moving your body properly to prevent injury
  • DO drink water before, during and after exercise to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion
  • DON’T exercise the same way every day – variety is more interesting and much more beneficial
  • DO keep your workout balanced between exercises that target the front and the back of your body
  • DON’T boost your speed or resistance too soon – increase your length of time first
  • DO give your muscles 48 hours to recover between any type of strength training sessions

Why Warming Up and Cooling Down is Vital to Your Daily Exercise Routine

Including time for warm-up and cool-down when you exercise can reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall performance. It’s well-worth adding the extra minutes to your routine for the sake of reducing stress on your heart and other muscles.

Be creative – for example, parking further away and walking to and from the gym can be your warm-up and cool-down time.

Warming up for 5-10 minutes gets your blood flowing so you muscles are well-supplied with oxygen. It increases your muscle temperature and makes you breathe a bit faster, which helps your body adjust to the demands of your exercise plan.

Do an activity that’s similar to your normal exercise (walking, running, swimming, etc.) but at a much slower pace - aim for a just little sweat without fatigue. Focus your warm-up on the larger muscle groups first, like in your legs, but save the stretching for after you exercise.

Cooling down for the last 5-10 minutes of your exercise means gradually decreasing your pace, which brings your breathing and heart rate back to normal. Stopping suddenly can make you light-headed as your heart rate and blood pressure are forced to drop too quickly. 

A few minutes of stretching after cool-down, while your muscles are still warm, can improve your joints’ range of motion and help you stay flexible. Stretch each muscle group slowly and gently, holding each stretch for up to 30 seconds without bouncing.

Warming up and cooling down helps you do better…faster…stronger!