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Rules of Exercise

The do’s and don'ts when it comes to exercise. 

The fitness world can be a confusing place to navigate. Everyone you talk to has a different piece of advice or warning when it comes to stretching, proper form, injury prevention, or staying hydrated. To whom do you listen? If you're new to exercise, your personal trainer can guide you through the ins and outs of getting in shape and reaching your goals, but you may have questions you’re embarrassed to ask.

To get the most out of your workouts, there are a few rules everyone should know up front.

Rule 1: Do Set Goals

Before starting an exercise program, take note of your current fitness level (your weight, BMI, and resting heart rate). Then write down what you hope to achieve through exercise. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds, run a 5K, bench press 250 pounds, or lower your LDL cholesterol to under 190. Setting achievable goals will help keep you motivated to exercise. 

Rule 2: Don't Over-Do It

One of the biggest mistakes people make is jumping into intense exercise too soon. Too much exercise when you're out of shape can lead to injury, extreme soreness, and fast burnout. 

Rule 3: Do Gradually Increase Intensity

The best way to start a fitness program is to ease into it slowly. You may have been in great shape back in the day, but a few years or even months without exercise can take a toll on your body. Start out slow and each week increase your pace and distance. 

Rule 4: Don't Skip Warm-Up, Cool-Down, and Stretching

Before your workout, spend a few minutes doing low-intensity exercise to gradually increase your body temperature and get your muscles and heart ready for action. At the end of your workout, spend five to ten minutes performing low- or moderate-intensity exercise to bring your heart rate down slowly and prevent muscle soreness. Stopping suddenly in the middle of intense exercise can lead to dizziness, fainting, or even heart arrhythmia. After your cool-down, stretch each of your major muscle groups to increase flexibility, improve posture, and relax your muscles. 

Rule 5: Do Make It a Priority

Waiting until the weekend to get in a good workout is not going to help you reach your goals. Set aside time most days of the week to exercise. When you have a set exercise schedule it's more likely to become a habit. If you have trouble committing to regular exercise sessions, plan to meet a friend. Or just remember that sad puppy-dog look on your trainer’s face. It'll be a lot harder to hit snooze when you know your friend or trainer is waiting for you at the track. 

Rule 6: Don't Get Bored

Running on the treadmill in your basement day in and day out can get old fast. Change things up and try new workouts. Play tennis with a friend, lift weights at the gym, or go on a hike. You may surprise yourself and start looking forward to exercise. 

Keep in mind that a balanced exercise routine will include cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises, so don't get stuck doing the same old workout everyday. 

Rule 7: Do Fuel Up

Your body needs rest, good nutrition, and plenty of hydration to perform well during your workouts, so be sure to get enough sleep; eat healthy meals; and drink water before, during, and after your exercise sessions. 

Rule 8: Don't Give Up

Busy schedules, comparing yourself to others, and not seeing fast results can prevent you from reaching your goals. But persevere and keep your head held high. The hard work will be worth it.