Common Fitness Blunders - Part 1Even Experienced Exercisers Can Be Guilty of These
-- By Joe Downie, Certified Physical Fitness Instructor
Both beginners and experienced exercises can be guilty of a few fitness blunders from time to time. Some may even become a regular part of your fitness routine, much like a bad habit. But, to get the best results from all your hard work, it’s important that you don’t find yourself creating a fitness routine filled with mistakes. This can set you up for injury, lack of results, boredom and plateaus. Analyze your fitness routine on a regular basis and ask yourself if you fall into any of these common blunders.
Blunder #1: Skipping the Warm Up, Cool Down, and Stretches
This is one of the most common bad habits of exercisers! You finally committed yourself to a fitness routine, and you don’t want to waste any time, so you jump right into your work out without warming up, cooling down, or stretching. After all, those low-intensity segments are meaningless and a waste of time, right?
NOT TRUE! Warming up, cooling down and stretching should be the foundation of your exercise program. They should be viewed as a transition into (and out of) exercise, allowing your body and mind to prepare for running, jumping, or strength training. Here is what you gain from proper warm-up, cool downs and stretching sessions:
- Your muscles and connective tissue loosen to prepare for the stress of exercise
- Oxygen and blood flow to your muscles and connective tissue increases, providing fuel for better muscular performance
- Tension in your body decreases
- Breathing patterns establish, helping relax the body during exercise
- Joints are lubricated to allow for better performance
- Muscle soreness is prevented and/or reduced during and after your workout
- Better body awareness
- Quicker reaction time
- Improved posture
- Improved coordination
- Quicker recovery
- Decreased muscle soreness
Fix it Tip: Try to warm up with a low impact exercise for 5-10 minutes. A light sweat is a good indicator of your body temperature rising. Follow your workout with 5-10 minutes light exercise to cool down, and stretching, head to toe. Most of your flexibility benefits will come from your post-exercise stretch because your muscles will be so warm. To learn more about the differences between these workout components, read our Reference Guides to Warming Up, Cooling Down and Stretching.
Blunder #2: Looking For Instant Gratification
We are a culture of instant gratification seekers! Expecting fast results from a new diet and fitness plan is very common. Unfortunately it is one of the worst mindsets a beginner can create. You know about all the great benefits of exercise, like increased energy, weight loss, and better health. You exercise for a week straight, wake up the following Monday completely wiped out, a couple pounds heavier (because the exercise made you so hungry), and you have a cold. What gives?
Exercise definitely provides many great benefits, but the results are often seen weeks or even months after you begin. When you are consistent:
- Your metabolism speeds up to allow for weight loss
- Your body will adjust to the stress of exercise and you’ll feel more rejuvenated
- Your immune system improves to help prevent sickness
- Your strength and endurance improves, making exercise (and daily tasks) easier
- Your mood and energy levels stabilize throughout the day
- You sleep better at night
- You look and feel better!
- Try to focus on other improvement besides weight loss--how you feel, how much you’ve learned, how you have more energy, etc.
- Keep in mind that progress may be slow in the beginning. It probably took you many years to gain the weight you are trying to lose. You can’t expect to take it off in a fraction of the time. Plus, slow and steady weight loss (about 1-2 pounds per week) is healthier--AND you’re more likely to keep it off when it happens at this rate.
- Get support and encouragement from a buddy, your friends and family, or on the message boards. Sometimes a kind word is all you need to stop you from giving up.