WARM UP FOR OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE AND INJURY PREVENTION
Prior to beginning a work out, you should take the time to properly warm up to prepare your body for strenuous activity and help prevent injury. A functional warm up can include such activities as light jogging, walking and raising your knees to your chest (or as high as you can), lateral movements, and full body squats. Once you begin to feel warm or break a light sweat then you are ready for your work out.
There are many benefits to cardiovascular activities. Some of these benefits are: an increase in overall health, metabolism, endurance, energy levels, and a decrease in stress levels. Cardiovascular activities are considered aerobic in nature. This means that oxygen is utilized, and therefore your heart and lungs are being worked during the activity. Examples of aerobic exercises are jogging/running, biking, aerobic classes, using the elliptical trainer and swimming. The current recommendation from The American Heart Association for cardiovascular training is 4-5 times per week with each session lasting 20-30 minutes. A general guideline for the intensity of your work out is that it should be difficult to hold a conversation with someone but not completely out of breath. Always consult your physician before starting a cardiovascular program. And remember, exercising should be fun, and it should excite you enough where you want to return and do it again. Feel free to start out with just walking for 20-30 minutes and gradually increase the intensity of the activity. You have to start somewhere!
DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH
Remember to breathe normally when working out and performing exercises. To properly breathe during weight lifting activities, exhale your breath during the maximal effort and inhale as you return to your starting point.
Weight Training is a technique utilized to increase the size and strength of muscles. Performing exercises with resistance (weights, bands, etc.) increases your strength. Strong emphasis should be placed on form and technique when performing strength training exercises. Exercises performed with light weight and high repetitions (12-20) will increase endurance while heavier weight and lower repetitions (4-12) will increase strength. Vary the exercises and repetitions over time but it is recommended that you stick with a few strengthening exercises for at least 4 weeks before switching the amount of repetitions or types of exercises. You should try to increase the weight every couple of sessions while maintaining the same amount of repetitions. Your muscles have a good memory so “mixing” things up once in a while can be beneficial in avoiding a plateau. You should give your muscles 1-2 days to rest and recuperate from a strength training session so a good guideline is to strengthen a specific muscle group 2-3 times per week. Also, it has been proven that weight training can increase your metabolism and contribute to further calorie burning so if weight loss is one of your fitness goals then be sure to have a component of strength training.
DRINK YOUR H2O
Drinking water before, during and after exercising is important to avoid dehydration. Waiting until thirsty is not an adequate measure of one’s hydration status. The best way to determine the amount of water needed to maintain a hydrated state is to measure body weight before and after activity. The amount of weight loss due to sweating during the activity should be replaced by hydrating. Stay hydrated by taking more frequent and smaller sips of water rather than consuming larger quantities of water less frequently.
COOL BACK DOWN AND STRETCH AT THE END
Cooling down allows for a proper transition from activity to a resting state. A cooling down period is advised at the end of the work out. It takes approximately 5-10 minutes to perform exercises at decreasing intensities that will provide for ample time for heart rate to return to normal prior to ceasing activity. As an example, if running, a prior cool down would be jogging and slowing the pace to a walk. Now is the time to stretch, after you have finished your work out and your muscles are very warm and most pliable. The goal of stretching is to improve flexibility and range of motion of your joints. We recommend that you perform 3-5 stretches and hold for a minimum of 30 seconds for each of the muscle groups you desire to improve flexibility in.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Before starting a new work out regimen, consult with a physician for advice on starting such activities. Exercise should be discontinued if pain or discomfort is experienced. The motto “no pain, no gain” should not be followed when exercising. It is expected that muscles be “sore” after a strenuous work out but post exercise muscle soreness should always dissipate when starting an activity again. If it worsens or the soreness becomes stronger or “sharp” in nature then stop the exercise. If you are uncomfortable with performing strength training or cardiovascular routines on your own, many facilities have onsite Strength and Conditioning Coaches and Personal Trainers with which you can consult.
The content on this page is intended to provide information to the general public in regards to care of acute injuries. It is meant to supplementand not replace the the advice of medical professionals. In the event of an injury or illness you should always consult your physician and discuss options and treatment pertinent to your individual case.