With so much information available about health and fitness, it’s no wonder some people are confused. Arming yourself with the right information can help ensure you avoid some common mistakes and get the maximum benefit from your fitness plan. Following are the top 10 most common fitness mistakes people make, along with advice on how to avoid them.
10. Forgetting to Hydrate
When active, your body naturally produces heat. Your body’s internal cooling system is to sweat, which prevents you from overheating. The problem occurs when you sweat out too much fluid without replacing it, which then leads to dehydration. Dehydration will increase your risk of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and in a worst-case scenario, heatstroke, which are all caused by dangerous levels of body heat due to loss of fluids. Here’s a basic rule of thumb for hydration: drink half your body weight in ounces every day. If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of fluid daily. If you’re really active or the weather is hot and humid, drink more.
9. Letting Boredom Stop Your Momentum
Repeating the same activity day after day gets boring for most people and eventually leads to not doing it anymore. Do what you love. Participating in activities you enjoy guarantees the good habit sticks. Whether it’s running, power walking, dancing, swimming, bike riding, horseback riding or surfing, do what you enjoy. The list of healthy activities is endless, so research what your area has to offer and try something new. You just might surprise yourself.
8. Working Too Hard the First Few Sessions
If you’re starting a new program for the first time or getting back into the swing of things after an extended absence, don’t forget to take it slow. Increasing the frequency and level of activity slowly will decrease the risk of serious injury, minimize muscle soreness and increase fitness level in a safe progression.
7. Using Improper Form
Proper body alignment is critical in preventing serious injury in any activity. When beginning an activity, for example, weight lifting, consider hiring a degreed fitness professional to show you the proper form for each exercise. In group fitness classes, the instructor will give proper body alignment instructions throughout the class to keep everyone safe. If you’re not sure you’re doing it right, ask for help.
6. Dismissing Cooling Down and Stretching
Cooling down reduces heart rate and body temperature and brings breathing back to normal after strenuous exercise. Incorporate stretching into your cool-down routine to increase flexibility and decrease the chance of injury.
5. Not Warming Up
Warming up prepares the body for activity by increasing body temperature. Forgetting to warm up will decrease your range of motion, cause muscle stiffness and possibly lead to injury. Start the blood flowing to the muscles by jumping rope or taking a walk for 5–10 minutes.
4. Following Poor Eating Habits
Proper nutrition is critical for a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is great, but if you eat fast food or fried food every day you’re sabotaging your effort to get healthy. Stock your kitchen with whole-grain items such as oats, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta, legumes, a variety of vegetables and fruit and lean protein. Fueling your body with good foods will give you energy, increase your activity level and make you feel really good. Yes, you can have a cookie or glass of beer, but in moderation.
3. Working Out for the Wrong Reasons
Why are you exercising? It should be for you and your health. Those who exercise to satisfy someone else struggle to find long-term success. Your own personal health and mental well-being should be the No. 1 reason you exercise. Loss of body fat, the jeans that fit perfectly and all the compliments are just icing on the cake (make it a small cake, of course).
2. Following an Inconsistent Pattern
In any exercise program, consistency is crucial. Irregular attendance to a fitness class or hitting the weights one week but skipping the next two is not going to improve your health. Consistency and commitment to any exercise program or activity is the key to success. Be realistic with your schedule. If you can only go to the gym twice a week that’s OK, but make sure to go. If your schedule allows, add another day. Maintaining a consistent routine is critical.
1. Not Making Good Health Your Lifestyle Choice
A healthy lifestyle is a choice. You either live it or you don’t. It’s not a one-time fix to fit into a bathing suit for the summer or a once-a-year resolution, but a lifelong habit. When shopping for food, it’s just as easy to put fresh fruit and vegetables in your cart as it is to go down the cookie and cracker aisle. Choosing to bake your chicken for dinner instead of frying it is a healthy choice. When living a healthy lifestyle you’ll automatically incorporate daily activity as part of your schedule and you won’t view it as something you “have to do today.”