There are a lot of factors that go into a successful exercise program. Dr. Christopher Mattern, WESTMED orthopedist, has prepared the following exercise tips to make your workout effective and safe for you.
Use Proper Equipment. Replace your running/athletic shoes as they wear out (typically every 300-400 miles for runners). Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that let you move freely and are light enough to release body heat.
Warm Up. Warming up before exercising is critical, especially in cold weather. Prior to stretching, run in place for 1-2 minutes, breathe slowly and deeply, or gently rehearse the motions of the exercise to follow. Warm-up exercises increase blood flow to muscle groups and loosen up muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.
Stretch. Begin stretches slowly and carefully until reaching a point of muscle tension. You should hold each stretch for 10 seconds without bouncing and then slowly and carefully release it. Inhale before each stretch and exhale as you release. You should never stretch to the point of pain.
Take Your Time. Move through the full range of motion with each repetition. Breathe regularly to help lower your blood pressure and increase blood supply to the brain.
Hydration. Drink enough water (or electrolyte sports drink of choice) to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. You should drink about one pint of water 15 minutes prior to the start of your exercise routine. Then have a drink of water every 20 minutes or so while you exercise.
Cool Down. This is an important last phase of your exercise routine. You should slow your exercise motions and decrease the intensity of your movements for at least 5 minutes before you stop completely. You should then gently stretch the muscle groups that you used during your workout. This phase of a safe exercise program should conclude when your skin is dry and you have cooled down.
Rest. Schedule regular days off from exercise, and rest when tired. You should avoid working out the same muscle groups two days in a row. Fatigue, soreness, and pain are good reasons to not exercise. Do not forget to listen to your body.