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What you need to know before you exercise

Don't work that body till you've read these tips

Author: Charlotte Kuchinsky August 3 2010

woman stretching in a field

It has been drilled into our heads almost from the moment of birth that exercise is good for us. While that is most assuredly true, what the experts often fail to say is that it is equally important to find the "right" kind of exercise. Not all of us can run or jog, or even should for that matter. Some of us can't do the breathing required to accomplish Yoga either. Still others don't have the strength to lift heavy weights. So not every exercise is right for every person.

There are things that should be taken into consideration before you start exercising. The first and foremost is your health; some health issues will naturally eliminate certain types of programs, while others will require moving into an exercise routine at a slow and methodical pace, and still others will dictate the length of the program or the level at which it is practiced. It is always advisable to get physician approval before beginning exercise; that way a qualified expert can help you determine which type of program will work best for you.

The goals you hope to achieve through exercise must also be realistic. For example, it may not be feasible for a 300-pound man to lose 150 pounds in five months. That would equate to over 30 pounds a month. While not impossible with the right diet and exercise program, it will be difficult and could cause some serious self-doubt. A goal of 150 pounds in six or seven months might be a better goal. If the individual manages to achieve it earlier, that is all the better.

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Always choose a routine that will fit the goals you have set. For example, if you want to build muscle, then weight training might be a good fit. On the other hand, if you want to lengthen and strengthen your core muscles, then Pilate's might be a better choice Aerobics, jogging and running could be a good option for those who are trying to burn extra calories. Swimming is a good, all around exercise. The point is that using an exercise routine that is contradictory to what you want to achieve will not only frustrate you, but also make it easy to stop exercising.

Exercising alone can quickly become boring, making it easy to abandon. It is better to exercise along with family or friends or to join a group with similar exercise goals. The camaraderie will make the time pass quicker and the extra support will be useful when achieving your goals seems to be impossible.

Wear comfortable clothing. There is a reason that workout clothes are soft, stretchy and pliable. It is called "comfort." While you may be able to run or work out in your regular clothing, you will not accomplish any workout at its highest level because you will be encumbered. Instead, choose light colored and lightweight clothing that allows you to move easily, as well as bend and stretch, without resistance. Be sure to also choose footwear that provides arch support and provides the proper protection.

Always have water available while you exercise. That is particularly important in the summer months when hydration often becomes a problem. The body will be able to work harder and maintain a good routine level longer if it is properly hydrated.

Don't exercise when you are hungry. First of all, your body won't work at peak performance and lastly you will very likely end the routine early in order to grab some nutrition. Eating the right kinds of foods, like fruits and vegetables, before exercising will give you an extra burst of steam and help you complete your routine easily.

Always stretch thoroughly before beginning any routine, no matter what kind it is. Stretching beforehand helps to engage the muscles slowly and prepare them for almost any workout level. I also recommend doing a cool down stretch routine at the end of exercise to give the muscles a chance to move slowly back into normal mode smoothly and naturally.

Establish a set routine for exercising that sets the number of times you will workout each week and the length of time for each workout. Consider alternating different types of routines like strength training on one day and aerobics on another. This will give your various muscle groups time to recuperate properly before the next workout comes along.

Lastly, be prepared to stop exercising immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Chest pain that radiates to the arm or jaw
  • Difficulty catching your breath or maintaining normal breathing
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Irregular, slow or fast heart beat
  • Sudden intense head pain
  • Tunnel vision
  • Unexplained weakness in the extremities.

Beginning any exercise routine requires proper planning as well as good execution. If you take the time to give attention to both, the end result is likely to be success.

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