The new year is upon us. We made it through the holiday season—and little bit plumper and better rested—and now it’s time to return to normal life. If you’re like many Alaskans, you may have made a New Year’s resolution to trim down or bulk up. However, each year, physical fitness resolutions lead many people from the gym to the hospital.
At this time of year, many of us become overly zealous with our commitments to personal health. We go from zero to 60: abandoning the all-cookie diet and vowing to eat only vegetables, forgetting our deep-rooted couch potato lifestyle and enrolling in a high-intensity fitness boot camp.
But this approach can lead to more problems than benefits. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Take precautions. Cardiovascular exercise can be a great way to burn calories. But running on the treadmill can lead to injury if you don’t take other steps to protect your body. Stretching your muscles before and after every workout is important. In addition, adding strength training into your workout regimen has been proven to prevent acute and over-use injuries even more than stretching alone.
- Work your way up. If you’re not already in the habit of working out, don’t go full-force from the beginning. Start with lower impact activities—such as walking or swimming—before building up to burpees and air squats. For weight training, begin with manageable weights and slowly build from there.
- Incorporate variety. It can be tempting to get into a rut with your workout routine. However, exercising the same muscle groups every day can lead to over-exertion injuries—giving your muscles insufficient time to repair themselves between workouts. Change up your routine, targeting different muscle groups.
- Decompress. Getting enough sleep at night is important for daily functioning—and especially when you’re exercising. Fatigue during your workout can make you more prone to injury, and sleep deprivation can actually make your workout less effective on your body.
While you can avoid many exercise-related accidents yourself, others are the responsibility of your gym. For example, if you slip and fall on a wet floor in the locker room or injure yourself on exercise equipment that wasn’t properly secured, you have the right to seek compensation from the gym for your injuries.