Exercise is an important ritual that keeps you strong, healthy and ready to meet the challenges of everyday life. When approached and performed properly, exercise can help protect you from many kinds of health problems, everything from osteoporosis to high blood pressure to depression. It is easy to overdo it, though. It’s important to understand what constitutes a safe and effective approach to exercise and how you can avoid exercise-related injuries or problems. It is important to always discuss your exercise plans with your health care provider before starting your training program, as they will be able to give recommendations as to what types of activities are best suited for you in your present state of health.
Mistake #1: Doing Too Much Too Soon
Doing too much too soon is one of the most common exercise mistakes made by exercise newcomers and veterans alike. Past participation in a regular exercise routine is not necessarily a guarantee that a person will perform the proper volume or intensity of physical activity the next time around. It is easy to be overzealous in the early stages of training, but measured participation and moderate intensity efforts will help keep you safe, healthy and motivated to continue your program. Putting excessive demands on your musculoskeletal system in the early stages of your exercise regimen may lead to injury. For certain activities, especially cardiovascular exercise, the health benefits begin to taper off after 60 minutes. When it comes to exercise, less in some cases is more. It is important to build your fitness gradually and progressively and consider participating in exercise classes or working with a certified fitness expert in order to reduce your chances of exercise-related injuries or problems.
Mistake #2: Performing Injurious Exercises
Not all exercises are safe. Some exercises may be safe only when they are performed with flawless technique. Technique used and the load involved are two key factors to consider when determining if an exercise – a resistance exercise, specifically – is safe for you. Your fitness status and injury history also play a role in deciding what risk specific activities carry. In general, it’s advisable to avoid or modify exercises that cause you pain or discomfort. Reducing the speed of a given exercise may lower your risk for injury, too.
Mistake #3: Becoming Dehydrated
Maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte levels is an important exercise consideration, and failing to do so is a common exercise mistake that can have significant consequences on both health and performance. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, exercise-induced dehydration reduces aerobic endurance performance and leads to increased body temperature, elevated heart rate and increased perceived exertion. It is important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your exercise bout and not wait until you are feeling thirsty before consuming fluids. Staying hydrated during exercise helps lubricate joints, transports nutrients to your cells for energy and health and helps reduce your chances of fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness and more serious symptoms.
Mistake #4: Choosing the Wrong Activities
It’s important to sample a variety of exercise activities so that you can find the activities that best suit your interests and aptitudes. A common exercise mistake – and one that can keep you from experiencing the true physical, mental and social health benefits of exercise – is choosing exercise activities that are not sustainable or enjoyable for you. Knowing your physical activity preferences –whether you like to exercise alone or with friends, enjoy team sports or individual athletic pursuits, prefer casual approaches or a competitive environment, etc. – is the key to choosing the activities through which you can get the most out of exercise. Mixing it up – combining two or three different activities that you enjoy – can be another way to keep your training sessions fresh and invigorating and your motivation high.
Dr. Erika Hamer, DC, DIBCN, DIBE, is a chiropractic neurologist and the owner of Ponte Vedra Wellness Center, with offices in Ponte Vedra Beach and Nocatee Town Center. Dr. Hamer also runs Ponte Vedra Training Company, specializing in doctor-supervised training programs customized according to individual goals and physical limitations.