Posted on Mar 27, 2020, 4 p.m.
Article courtesy of : Nicholas DiNubile MD
“I’m a gym member. I try to go four times a week, but I’ve missed the last… twelve hundred times.” ~ Matthew Perry as Chandler on the TV show “Friends”
Many people are looking ahead to getting back in shape, or staying in shape, through the weeks of isolation and social distancing. After all, it is springtime, and before you know it will be summer. Many will be hitting the trails or roads and joining gyms when they are permitted to reopen, in search of a better body. Maybe you’ve even gotten personal trainer sessions as a gift that you are waiting to use.
For those who have not been exercising and are committed to starting a program, I applaud you. It is the single best gift you can give yourself. It can also be very challenging.
The key is to find a program you like, and one your body tolerates well, and stick with it- no matter what it takes!
For those of you who are starting out after a long layoff, or if exercise is new to you, it’s important to avoid those common mistakes when starting an exercise program. Also, if you are really out of shape, overweight, or have medical issues, check with your doctor before starting up.
The 5 most common mistakes individuals make when starting an exercise program are:
- Too much too soon – Many try to make up for lost time by going at it with a vengeance. While I love that “start-up” enthusiasm, it’s also important to remember that exercise is a powerful stimulus, which benefits your body in many ways, but your body needs time to adapt to the new stresses and strains being placed on it. So go slowly at first.
- Follow the “10% Rule” – Never increase your exercise routine (i.e. the amount of miles you run or the amount of weight you lift) more than ten percent per week. This avoids overuse injuries and the over training syndrome.
- Lack of balance – Try not to pick only one activity. Embrace cross-training to get more overall balance for your body. Remember there is no single perfect exercise that covers all aspects of fitness so it pays to mix things up. Also, in general you should not be doing the same exact routine every single day (although walking and stretching can usually be done safely every day). Each week try to incorporate aerobic (cardiovascular) activities, weight lifting and stretching. Unidimensional (i.e. one activity only) workouts can create imbalances that can be a set up for injuries. Also, a variety makes things less boring. When you first start out, it’s fine to pick one activity, but as the weeks go by, be sure to add more overall balance to your program by adding the other above mentioned components.
- Pick an activity that’s right for your frame – Musculoskeletal (i.e. muscle, bone and joint) problems are so common that you may need to modify your routines to accommodate that bum knee, sore shoulder or low back that goes out more than you do. Check with your trainer or physical therapist (if you have one), or your orthopaedic surgeon who can help you stay fit and pain free. Fitness shouldn’t be a pain!
- Fuel up – So many are trying to both lose weight and get fit at the same time. There’s no question that exercise should be an essential part of any weight loss or weight control program. The mistake that is commonly made is that in an effort to drop pounds, starvation (i.e. inadequate calories) becomes part of the plan, and that will interfere with optimal workouts. Food is your fuel for exercise so learn to make good food choices rather than starving yourself. Breakfast is especially important so look for a high quality carbohydrate one, like oatmeal or cereal with a banana. Also be sure to drink plenty of water (at least 8 glasses a day) to remain adequately hydrated, since fluid needs go up with exercise.
- Stick with it – Exercise is not easy but it should be fun. There will be times when you may want to pack it in, especially when the novelty wears off. There will always be a handy excuse available. Dropout rates are tremendous so don’t be a casualty. Don’t give in and remember you are creating a lifetime habit, so thing long term.
If you can avoid these few mistakes, your path to fitness should be much smoother. Believe it or not, even those who have been exercising regularly for years fall prey to these common exercise errors. With a little effort, they are easily avoided.
Mistakes are part of any new endeavor. We all make them. But learning from others’ past errors is always a better choice than experiencing them yourself.
Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, is Vice President of the A4M, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, best selling author, keynote speaker, and one of our esteemed medical editors who is dedicated to keeping you healthy in body, mind and spirit. Dr. DiNubile was appointed Special Advisor to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (1st Bush Administration with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Chairman). He has advised two United States Presidents on matters of health and health policy, and has cared for numerous celebrities and high level athletes.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement