By eDiets Staff
So you finally invested in that workout equipment or joined a gym! Now you are ready to turn your sedentary lifestyle around. But before you make the transition from couch potato to fitness freak, here are some safety tips for you to consider:
Before You Get Physical, Get A Physical
Start your workout program with a visit to your doctor’s office for a medical check-up. I know what you’re thinking! Why go to the doctor now, when you haven’t gotten in shape yet? The doctor will be much more impressed with your physique after you have been working out for about six months.
The point of the physical, however, is not to impress your doctor. The point is to find out if there are any fitness activities you should avoid NOW because of your current physical condition. Just consider this check-up the first of many snapshots of your physical fitness. In fact, it will give you a great basis for measuring your progress later on.
Get Instruction On The Proper Technique
OK, so your doctor gave you a clean bill of health. Now, you can start working out, right? Wrong! First, be sure to get instruction on the proper technique. If you joined a gym, you should be entitled to at least one introductory session with a licensed personal trainer. Your personal trainer will show you how to use the exercise equipment properly.
Whether you’re working out at home or at a gym, one of the best ways to get advice is to become a member of eDiets. With personalized workout programs, 3-D animations, message boards and a team of experts ready to assist you, eDiets Fitness Plan is like having your own virtual personal trainer with you at all times.
Warm Up And Cool Down
Professional athletes don’t take the field for a big game without warming up first. Neither should you start a workout without including a warm-up period. Also, remember to cool down by slowing down and stretching again at the end of your routine.
Use Proper Breathing
While you are exercising, be sure to incorporate proper breathing techniques. This is especially important for weight training. According to eDiets Chief Fitness Pro Raphael Calzadilla, people have a tendency to hold their breath when they are lifting weights. He says this actually weakens the body and can lead to more serious problems, including dizziness and blackouts.
Concerning the proper breathing techniques for weight training, Raphael advises, “While you are exerting positive movement, you should exhale.” For instance, if you are performing a bench press — you would inhale when you bring the barbell down to your chest and exhale when you lift it back up.
Don’t Overdo It!
Remember to begin your workout program with low to moderate activity. You can gradually increase the duration and intensity of your exercise sessions as you become more physically fit.
According to Raphael, it’s important to apply the concept of natural progression to your exercise program. In other words, if you complete a mile run this week, don’t start running five miles next week. Increase your exercise goals in smaller increments.
“You have to consider your body from the inside out,” Raphael says. “When you don’t use natural progression with your exercise program, you can put your body into shock.”
As for weight training, you should work out to the point of momentary muscle failure (MMF). “Let’s say it takes you 12 repetitions to get to the point of MMF,” Raphael says. “When you are strong enough to complete 13 repetitions, it is time to increase the weight by 5 percent.” You may be able to increase the weight slightly more, but he recommends 5 percent as a general rule of safety.
Get a Heart Rate Monitor
Another way to ensure you are exercising safely is to invest in a heart rate monitor. Using a monitor will help you ensure you stay within your target heart range. Staying within your target heart range will keep you in a safe zone for exercising and fat burning.
According to Raphael, the formula for determining your target heart range is to subtract your age from the number 220. In other words: 220 – age = maximum heart range (you should stay within a 60-80 percent range of this number). For instance, if you are 30 years of age, your maximum heart range would be 220 – 30 = 190.
Add Variety to Your Routine
Include a variety of sports and exercises in your fitness routine. “The human body is designed to adapt to any routine in four to six weeks,” says Raphael. “If you add the right balance of exercise to your workout routine, you can reduce the potential for overtraining.”
Stop Exercising If You Experience Severe Pain or Discomfort!
If you experience severe pain, discomfort or swelling during your exercise session, you should immediately stop working out. If any of these conditions persist, you should see a doctor.
Drink Plenty of Water
When you engage in regular exercise, it is important to increase your intake of water. Drink water before, during and after your exercise sessions in order to keep yourself hydrated.
For normal activity, here is Raphael’s formula for drinking water: Drink .55 x your body weight in ounces of water every day. For instance, if you weigh 175 pounds, you should drink 96 ounces of water every day.
According to Raphael, you should increase your intake of water on an as needed basis. “I recommend a minimum of a half gallon of water a day for people that are very active,” he says.
Give Yourself Recovery Days
You need to schedule recovery days in order to make sure your body has ample time to rest. According to Raphael, most people need at least two full days of rest every week. “Your muscles, your cardiovascular system, your nervous system and even your bones and joints all need the rest,” he says.