If you're new to the workout scene, it can seem intimidating, between all the different workout options or the machinery at the gym. Although all that advice on reps and intervals might send you headed for the hills, there's no need to panic, as there are a number of tips that can help fitness newbies. Just because you haven't been doing yoga for five years doesn't mean you should be intimidated by a downward-facing dog, and having a little bit of helpful fitness advice can make all the difference in motivating you to exercise – and enjoy it!
Although you might think you're one of the few people left who doesn't regularly frequent the gym, you're not alone. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, only 20.8 percent of Americans meet the suggested physical activity guidelines. "While it may seem like everyone is killing themselves at TRX, Soul Cycle, and CrossFit, this just isn’t the case," says Franci Cohen, fitness trainer, exercise physiologist, and nutritionist, to Bustle over email. Everyone could use a few suggestions when it comes to working out, but sometimes the advice seems too intense for someone just beginning.
If you're new to the fitness world and are looking for some workout guidance, consider these six tips that will be sure to make the process easier.
1. Stay Balanced
It can be tempting to get overzealous with your newfound motivation, but don't try to run too many miles or do too many sit ups all at once. "Does it work with your daily schedule and your exercise preferences?" says Cohen. "A good rule to follow: Include at least four cardio exercises and two or three strength training circuits. Use the off days to allow your muscles time to recover and get stronger."
2. Know When To Stretch
Multiple studies show that stretching before exercising can actually hinder your workout and slow you down, according to The New York Times. "Although it might seem like the best thing to do, stretching before a workout may put you at risk of injury," says Cohen. "Try stretching your muscles for 15 seconds after you warm up. You are less like to get hurt from stretching if your muscles are already warmed up."
3. Keep Small Equipment In Your Living Room
There's no need to clutter up your home by turning your living room into a gym, but keeping small pieces equipment such as dumbbells, leg weights, and steps can serve as a reminder to get moving, such as when you're watching TV. "They will be difficult to avoid when you're looking right at them," says Cohen. "If you really don't want exercise gear cluttering your home, make time to perform short activities that get your heart rate up but require little or no space or equipment, like jumping jacks."
4. Don't Get Stuck On The Treadmill
When beginning a workout, it's important to try different exercises to see what works best for you. "New exercisers often do the same routine for the same duration and at the same intensity every time they work out," says Cohen. "So you'll stay on the treadmill until you either die of boredom or get hurt." Switching up your workout can also prevent you from hitting a plateau.
5. Know When To Take A Break
“If you don’t give your body time to heal and repair itself, your performance will go down and you’ll get into a vicious cycle where you never fully recover,” Cohen says. Exercising too much can lead to chronic fatigue, so give yourself a day of rest or do a more easygoing and relaxing workout on your off days.
6. Don't Get Stuck On The Numbers
It can be tempting to constantly check your heart rate or running time, but when used too frequently, these tools can turn a healthy activity into a competitive obsession. "Every now and then, go unplugged and focus your attention on what your body is telling you," says Cohen. "Move at a pace that feels good, listen to your body, and enjoy the experience." Remember that all exercise is good for your body, and you don't need to to beat records to reap its health benefits.
Beginning a new workout routine can seem overwhelming, so take it day by day to keep your body safe, healthy, and happy.
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