(NC) Exercise is a key component in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you are new to daily workouts, or if you are just looking to ramp up your existing routine, there are a few things you might consider to achieve success.
“Two of the most important first steps are to set a realistic goal followed by a plan to achieve that goal,” says Stephanie Dupuis, National Director of Personal Training with GoodLife Fitness Clubs. “Being realistic will help make a positive impact on your overall health, but it also needs to fit into your existing lifestyle. The goal should be something you can commit to.”
When getting started on a fitness program, don’t overdo it. Tackle one lifestyle change at a time. “If you haven’t been involved in exercise, your first lifestyle change can be as simple as exercising two to three times per week. Once you have been exercising for a month incorporate another change into your routine. Your next lifestyle change can be as simple as increasing the amount of water you drink daily,” suggests Dupuis. However, she stresses that your changes should be gradual. “Changing your health and fitness is a lifelong journey and you have time to make changes.”
Regardless of your exercise experience, incorporating a warm up into your routine is vital, Dupuis says. “Your warm up and cool down are important for safety. A warm up doesn’t have to be long—it can be five to ten minutes. That short warm-up will increase blood flow to your muscles and help reduce your risk of injury.”
After your workout, a proper cool down is equally important. Dupuis recommends, “Gradually reduce the intensity and speed of your activity in preparation for stopping your workout.” A proper cool down allows your heart rate to return to normal and can help prevent you from feeling dizzy or fainting.
When you first begin working out it’s not uncommon for your muscles to ache a little bit—not severe or sharp pain, but a small amount of tension. Soreness comes from using muscles that haven’t been used in a while. It’s normal to feel some soreness 24 to 48 hours after exercising. It will go away. To sooth sore muscles Dupuis suggests that you keep moving the day after you work out. Even going for a walk can help. Remaining still will cause soreness to set in.
Most importantly, remember that everyone starts somewhere. If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional. Dupuis advises, “Work at your own level and incorporate things you like into your workout. Exercise should be fun.”