Many times, people jump right into a fitness routine, but quickly overdo it and hurt themselves. The result? Pain, frustration, and even trips to the doctor. But if you exercise with caution, your body will thank you.  If you’re new to physical activity, haven’t been active for a long time, or are trying a new sport, start out slowly. Build up your activity gradually so you don’t get hurt. To realize health benefits, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, at least five days a week.


Don’t work the same muscles two days in a row. Instead, vary your activities daily to work different muscles and keep your routines interesting. Don’t forget to warm up with some simple stretches before your routine, or by walking or marching in place.  For aerobic exercise – such as walking, cycling, or running – a good rule of thumb to see if you’re working at the right pace is the “talk test.” If you can’t talk during the activity, you’re working too hard. If you can belt out a show tune, you can pick up the pace.  Most healthy adults can start moderate physical activity as soon as they’re ready.

If you have any of the following conditions, you should talk to your doctor before you begin:  heart problems, chest pains, high blood pressure, dizziness or balance problems, asthma, bone or joint problems, diabetes, any new, undiagnosed symptom, such as weakness or headaches.
If you’re planning to exercise for an hour or more, drink more water than you think you need before, during, and after exercise to avoid getting dehydrated. Drinking 10 to 16 ounces of water two hours before your activity will give your body time to get rid of extra liquid and offset fluid lost from sweating.

If you’re biking or skating, wear a helmet that fits snugly. Wearing a bike helmet can cut your risk of serious head injury by up to 85 percent, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Wrist, elbow, and kneepads add protection during skating.  Make sure your gear and equipment are good quality, even though it might cost more. If you’re a runner or hiker, invest in a good, sturdy pair of running or hiking shoes. And also consider having reflective strips on your clothing for exercising in the dark. If you’re into cycling, buy a decent bike. Quality gear pays off. It will lower your risk of injury and last longer.

Regular physical activity has many health benefits. You’ll build stronger bones and muscles, control your weight, and are able to fight colds and stress better. Work out safely and reap the rewards.

Submitted by:  AARP