Regular exercise can help you control your weight, ward off serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease, and improve your cognitive functioning. Plus, most people who exercise regularly report better moods and lower incidence of depression.
But if you’ve never been very dedicated to exercise, you might be wondering if it’s safe to start now. It absolutely is, in most cases, but follow these tips to keep yourself safe.
Check with your doctor first. Certain health conditions can make exercise more dangerous. With your doctor’s permission, you can proceed with a regular exercise regiment more confidently.
Start off slowly. If you haven’t always exercised regularly, don’t try to do too much all at once. Set a goal to exercise at a comfortable pace for fifteen or twenty minutes at first, then gradually increase the time as you feel comfortable. Stop immediately if anything hurts.
Choose activities that are gentle on joints. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, because you can do it almost anywhere and it doesn’t require special lessons or advanced skills. Swimming is another good choice, as is biking (stationary or street cycling).
Warm up appropriately. That fifteen or twenty minutes should include a five-minute warm-up. Getting the blood flowing to your muscles, and stretching a bit, will help to prevent injuries.
Cool down. Speaking of stretching, make sure to stretch after every exercise session. This can help you prevent sore muscles.
Hydrate. Sip on water regularly throughout your exercise session, and drink one full glass when you’re finished. Dehydration can be particularly dangerous after age 60 or so.
Change it up. Trying new forms of exercise can prevent boredom, and contribute to more well-rounded fitness. Try that ballroom dance class you’ve always fantasized about, take up a new sport such as tennis, or sign up for yoga.
Consider strength training. You want to take it easy, of course, to protect your joints. But strength training is one of the best ways to boost metabolism, and increased strength can help you avoid injuries in the long run.
Consult a professional. A personal trainer can help you learn about proper form, which will prevent injuries. A golf pro can help you adjust your swing. And a qualified yoga instructor understands proper alignment, which can help you in multiple areas of life. Consult the appropriate professionals for guidance, and exercise will be safer and more enjoyable.