Whether you want to up your fitness this summer or train for your first 5K, starting a fitness program can be one of the best things you can do for your body to keep it healthy and strong. However, exercising can also be bad news if you’re not doing it right!
This summer, millions of Americans from coast-to-coast will sign up for new exercise programs or create their own fitness plans. Here are five doctor recommended must-do’s to ensure you prevent injury and are able to happily and healthily undertake your summer fitness program:
1. Assess your true fitness and level with the help of a professional.
Things you should get checked out include:
- Meet with your doctor and a trainer and share what your training plans are and how your body will respond to them. Discuss any past injuries that may be relevant to your new training program.
- Check your BMI (Body Mass Index).
- Assess where you’re at when you start your specific program. In other words, record how long it takes to walk or run a mile, how flexible you are in your stretching, how many sit-ups or pull-ups you can do, and so forth.
2. Do your research before diving in.
- Get to know the ins and outs of the program you are following – research trustworthy sources including trainers, fitness pros and reliable fitness magazines.
- Form is everything. Make sure you know how to perform the exercises you want to do correctly. Because poor form can lead to injury and keep you from working out.
- If you’re going to run a marathon, learn the basics of proper running form, including learning how to warm up, cool down, and stretch properly.
3. Listen to your body. Start slowly and go at your own pace.
- If you are feeling fatigued listen to your body, slow it down, or perhaps switch to a less high impact activity for a day or two.
- Make sure your fitness program progresses evenly and slowly, let yourself build on it every week, don’t “go big or go home” from the beginning or you will in fact be going home sooner than you think.
- If things aren’t feeling “right” when you’re starting out, don’t be afraid to take a break and check in with a professional. It’s better to be over-cautious as opposed to pushing yourself into an injury, side-lining yourself even more.
4. No matter what your routine is, add in some variety – AKA cross-training
- Mix it up and vary your fitness program in order to give specific muscles a break and chance to repair and also get bigger and stronger. Rest also offers the added benefit of reducing your chance of injury.
- Variety is the spice of life and also assures that you’ll prevent boredom and procrastination in your fitness routine. If you’re on one strict exercise program, try to find some time to add in a day or two once week where you try something different. Doing something different will not only keep you inspired but help you create a body that is fit from top to bottom.
5. Find a virtual or in-person support network.
- Find a team of people to share tips, inspiration and progress. Whether it’s finding a workout partner, taking a class, or joining a running group, why do it solo when you can work out with a buddy.
- If you can’t find an in-person team because your schedule doesn’t lend to it, utilize online resources. There’s tons of workout Apps that will help keep you accountable. You can even turn on your TV and get a quick 5 or 10 minute workout.
Dr. Yael “Dr. V” Varnado is a Cornell-educated physician and a medical and health expert, known for her ability to deliver straight, relatable and relevant information on timely topics that matter most.
She is passionate about women’s health issues and teaching all those she reaches about preventative care, helping to stop heath problems before they start. Dr. V is the creator of the Live Right at Night Campaign focusing on women’s sexual and physical health and safety between the hours of 5 pm and 9 am.
She is also the founder of the Get Checked for Life non-profit that assists members of underserved communities, improving their quality of life by educating and giving them access to the necessary tools and medical resources. You can find Dr. V on Facebook and Twitter via @AskDrV and online at www.AskDoctorV.com