Regular exercise is good for the body. However, like any physical activity, rushing into it and training too hard or fast can cause injury. 3.7 million Americans were injured in 2019 due to sports and other recreational activities. About 468,000 of these injuries happened during exercise.
While you may feel highly motivated and eager to get into shape, doing intense workouts right away won’t produce the results you want in an instant and may even harm you. Don’t let yourself become just another number in the alarming statistic of exercise-related injuries. In this article, we answer why it is important to ease into an exercise program and how sufficient preparation helps prevent injury.
Staying active benefits not only your physical health but also your mental and emotional health. As with anything in life, the best way to become good at something is to be bad at it first. There’s no magic formula or quick fix in excelling in, if not perfecting, a skill or task.
People have different reasons for starting a new exercise regimen. Some may have been long-time gym rats but had to take a break from exercising because of a new baby, an extended trip, or other life transitions. Others may have never exercised before but have committed to getting fitter. Finally, some people could have sustained an injury that kept them from working out but are now healed and ready to hit the gym again.
No matter what a person’s reason is for engaging in an exercise program, every individual is on their own fitness journey. The key to achieving one’s fitness goals is consistency; you must trust the process and keep it at your own pace.
The expression “go hard or go home” applies to some situations, but starting a workout plan isn’t one of them. These are the reasons why it is essential to ease into an exercise program:
1. Reduce the risk of injury
Rushing into a workout plan and doing movements that may be too much for you to handle will only lead to injury. Overusing your muscles and pushing yourself beyond your limits hinder you from getting optimal results. Once you end up hurting yourself, you’ll need plenty of time to recover—time you could have spent slowly and steadily getting your body used to the workout.
2. Stick to your routine
Going all out at the beginning will cause burnout. Starting slowly and gradually progressing your difficulty level can help hold your interest and build habits that keep you on track in the long run.
3. Practice makes better
When you do something repeatedly, you get better at it. Learning how to properly execute exercises, especially complicated and tricky ones with no previous fitness experience, will take time. Easing into a new exercise program will also help your body adapt to its demands.
The key to achieving one’s fitness goals is consistency; you must trust the process and keep it at your own pace.
People can hurt themselves in many ways when working out. Common injuries include:
- Muscle pull and strain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Joint dislocation
- Sprained ankle
- Shoulder and knee injuries
- Shin splint
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar fasciitis
- Back pain
Before you dive headfirst into working out, keep these tips in mind:
1. Find Your “Why”
Since consistency is a crucial part of any fitness journey, you need to be motivated and disciplined enough never to skip a workout as much as possible. Your motivation or “why” will keep you on track, especially on days when it’s hard to get up and to move.
Are you exercising to reduce your risk of disease or chronic conditions? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to boost your self-confidence and change your self-image? These valid motivations will remind you why you started working out in the first place.
2. Consult a Personal Trainer
Although many online resources demonstrate exercises, it’s best to talk to a personal trainer. A personal trainer has the experience and knowledge to guide you every step of the way. More importantly, a personal trainer can assess your fitness level and create a customized plan suited to your skills and goals. An expert can also teach you the proper technique, form, and equipment.
A personal trainer also serves as your accountability partner, ensuring that you stick with your regimen and diet. A personal trainer is beneficial to beginners who find it difficult to follow a workout schedule. It would be a worthwhile investment if you could afford to hire a trainer.
3. Create an Exercise Program
You can personalize your workout plan or have a trainer do it. Whatever the case, identify your goals before searching for specific exercises. A person who wants to lose weight will have an entirely different exercise regimen from someone who wants to bulk up. Picture the results you want to achieve, then incorporate the appropriate exercises accordingly.
If you’ve worked out previously and are just reconditioning yourself, you can start with low-impact workouts. If you want to build muscle and strength, weight or resistance training is a must. Cardio or HIIT workouts are ideal for weight loss.
Exercise progression is also important. You can’t keep doing the same workouts for such a long time. Your body will get used to the exercises and produce little to no changes. Progressing can mean increasing or decreasing weights, repetitions, speed, duration, or intensity. You only have to make one adjustment to help your body ease into the change, although more is often better when you’re capable enough anyway.
Beginners are advised to do light to moderate intensity exercises. Here’s a quick and easy guide on exercise intensity:
- Light – light effort, easy to breathe
- Light to moderate – some effort, breathing more apparent
- Moderate – moderate effort, breathing is harder
- Moderate to vigorous – hard effort, slightly breathless
Fun and Enjoyment
Exercise is often perceived to be overwhelming, tedious, and just downright unenjoyable. Beginners mostly have this misconception and are discouraged from working out. Contrary to popular belief, exercising can be fun and exciting! The benefits and results of living an active lifestyle are worth more than the sweat (and sometimes, tears).
Below are some ways to make exercise more enjoyable:
Listen to music or podcasts
Watch workout videos
Find a workout buddy
Try new exercises or fitness classes
Choose the right time to work out
Set goals and keep track of them through journaling or interactive fitness apps
Follow a balanced diet
Wear better workout clothes and footwear
Use quality exercise equipment
Create a conducive environment for exercise at home
4. Take Caution and Listen to Your Body
Easing into an exercise program involves slowly adapting to the movements at short intervals. Make sure that you have enough test days so your body can recover. If you start to feel pain or excessive discomfort, stop immediately and consult a personal trainer or doctor.
5. Drink Plenty of Water
Your body needs to stay hydrated to replace all the sweat and fluids you lost. Water will reenergize you, replenish your strength, and keep you going.
6. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down
Warming up before your workout prepares you for the more intense physical activity that’s about to come. Static and dynamic stretching, squats, and jogging are common warm-up exercises. These will enhance blood flow to the muscles and loosen up joints.
On the other hand, cooling down after your workout will stabilize your heart rate and reduce soreness. Stretching is a go-to cool-down routine.
7. Celebrate your progress
Having the right mindset is just as important as the type or intensity of your workout. Whatever your motivation for exercising is, make sure that it isn’t harmful to you. Don’t beat yourself up too much for missing a workout day, cheating on your diet, or not seeing results as expected. No external force can make judgments about your progress. Just focus on yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.
Impatience, frustration, and misinformation can make people set unrealistic expectations. Overworking yourself and doing extremely challenging exercises without the proper preparation and fitness level can cause injury and take a toll on your body. We hope this article sheds light on the importance of going slow and steady.
Helping a client reach their fitness goals and seeing them love their transformation is truly a rewarding experience. However, the profession does come with risks. Accidents can happen in a gym, and clients may file a negligence claim, even if a personal trainer has done their job correctly.
Now that we’re discussing the importance of easing oneself into an exercise program protecting personal trainers from false claims and groundless legal action is necessary. Some clients might be stubborn and insist on doing high-level workouts against the advice of their fitness coach, then put all the blame on the gym management or trainer. API Fitness provides comprehensive personal trainer insurance or fitness trainer insurance for such circumstances. Read more about our insurance coverage here.