Exercise dos and don’ts

Here's a list of workout dos and don'ts that is guaranteed to bring instant improvement to your fitness levels

DO...

Fit in fitness

If you want to stay fit, your fingers and your mouth should not be the only parts moving regularly. Following a sedentary lifestyle will make you prone to heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, lethargy and mood swings. Hence, a workout should be an indispensable element of your day.

Warm-up and cool-down

You just can't afford to miss this one. A warm-up prepares the body for the activity to follow. Our muscles perform better and are less prone to injury when they are warm. A warm-up can mean simply walking or marching for 5 – 10 minutes to raise the body's core temperature.

A cool-down lowers the body's temperature, gradually. The last 5 – 10 minutes of the workout should be cool-down time. This allows the blood to return to its resting state.

Stretch

A good time to stretch is immediately after an exercise session, while the body is still warm. Stretching prevents muscle soreness and increases flexibility. It also relaxes the muscles, mobilises the joints and improves posture.

Strength train

Include strength training in your fitness regimen, as it helps maintain bone density and gain strength. For an effective routine, include exercises that target the major muscle groups of the upper, mid and lower body.

Watch what you eat

What you eat influences the results of your fitness regimen. A sound nutrition plan can help you build muscle, decrease percentage of body fat, and look and feel better. Also, if you eat healthy, you will have the necessary energy to exercise and be active.

Rest adequately

When we rest, our muscles get time to recuperate from the stress they go through while exercising. Resting also helps recover from fatigue and muscular exhaustion. If you are weight training, make sure you give your muscles at least 48 hours of rest in between workout sessions to recover and recuperate.

Consult a qualified trainer

Consult a trainer to help you with the right form, as it will protect your body from exercise trauma. Following a wrong technique or exercising with jerky movements can cause injury. No matter what exercise you do, always make sure to focus on the right posture, keeping your body properly aligned all through the exercises.

Start off at a moderate intensity

You need to prepare your body to exercise bit by bit to avoid over-straining. For that, your exercise programme has to be structured, systematic and progressive [beginning with a low intensity and gradually increasing].

Think positive

Adopting a positive attitude gives you a greater chance of success. Taking pride in every little victory will make you more positive towards your exercise and push you to stick to your exercise routine, no matter what. Remember, it's the small changes that we incorporate that make a big difference. So don't undermine the achievement even if you add 15 minutes to your daily walk, it means you've added two whole hours to your exercise each week—quite a feat.

DON'T...

Let monotony set in

There is a likelihood of boredom setting in if you continue doing the same thing over and over. Fitness routines are meant to be fun, exercise should help bust the stress and make you feel lively and energetic; not bored. So, vary your workouts to maintain the enjoyment level.

Think skinny

Often people think of becoming thin [read skinny] when they start an exercise routine, and this prompts them to starve themselves and over-exercise. Think healthy, not skinny. Make sure you eat a well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, proteins, fats and plenty of water.

Ignore your breathing

How you breathe when you exercise matters a lot, especially if you doing weight training, yoga or Pilates. When training with weights, most people are ignorant about the correct way to breathe—breathe out when you exert the muscles, and breathe in when you ease them.

Go overboard

Just like under-exercising, even over-exercising is bad for your health. Don't get impatient for quick results and do too much, too fast; it causes injury.

Forget the fluids

You lose body fluids when you perspire while working out. The water loss needs to be replaced or you'll get dehydrated; drink lots of water before, after and while you are exercising.

Ditch cardio training

Cardio exercises are important to raise your overall fitness levels; do them 3 – 5 times a week for of 30 – 60 minutes. Your exercise intensity can range between 45 – 85 per cent of your target heart rate depending on your age, fitness level and medical history.

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Namita Jain
Namita Jain is a Mumbai-based certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight management Consultant from the American Council on Exercise [ACE] and certified Health and Fitness Instructor from the American College of Sports Medicine [ACSM]. She is the Founder of LiveActive, a wellness company that delivers effective and holistically designed wellness programmes based on individual needs.

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