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Thread: Tips for New Exercisers

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    Senior Member Rasputin's Avatar
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    Post Tips for New Exercisers

    If the majority of your leisure time is spent in a plush armchair, then taking up exercise is probably an excellent idea. But if you last exercised when you were a member of the high school basketball team several decades ago, then you may want to consider getting some sound advice to get off to a good start. Many people end up making mistakes in their exercise regimen that may affect the ability and willingness to maintain an exercise commitment.

    "Probably the most common mistake is not using common sense," says Catherine Jackson, PhD, chair of the department of kinesiology at California State University, Fresno. Below, Jackson explains how you can sidestep common mistakes among beginning exercisers, so that you get fit safely.

    What should people consider when choosing a personal trainer?

    Number one, you should pay some attention to their credentials and not just the way they look. There are a lot of people in the health, fitness, wellness industry who have absolutely no training at all.


    The best credentials come through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). If you're dealing with an ACSM-certified person, you can be relatively certain that you're getting up-to-date and accurate information.

    The National Strength and Conditioning Association also has a number of levels of certification and people certified by this organization will help you to work in a safe way so that you don't get hurt.

    How important is proper equipment?

    Not getting the proper equipment or not wearing the proper shoes or clothes is another very common error. For example, many people have bicycle ergometers, or stationary bikes. Some of the less expensive models cannot be adjusted properly so the leg is not in full extension during the down cycle of pedaling, which can lead to knee problems.

    And many individuals who start, for instance, a walking program, will have read that all they need is a comfortable pair of shoes. But they need a good pair of walking shoes with the correct arch and heel support and toe box. Once you start walking long distances, increasing your speed, and walking more often, if you don't have the proper shoes, you actually can get injured in what is probably the safest form of exercise.


    Also, if, for instance, you're taking an aerobics class, you should have a pair of shoes for the aerobics class and not wear them on the street. You could pick up things on the bottom of the shoes that will make them dirty and slippery. Secondly, the way your foot strikes is different in walking and in your aerobics session, so you will have two different wear patterns. This could unbalance your foot during activity and lead to additional strain.

    Likewise, people frequently will buy exercise clothes that are totally inappropriate for the activity that they've chosen. If you're going to be on a treadmill, for example, you don't want clothes that are really loose and could get caught in the machine.

    Do people often attempt to do too much too soon?

    Yes, most individuals think, "If I walk one mile this week as my exercise program, I can walk two miles next week," and that's wrong. Your frequency, intensity and duration should never increase more than 10 percent in a subsequent week. Many individuals increase the workout 100 percent in their first week and that end up not continuing to exercise, usually because of injury.


    Another very common misunderstanding is this no-pain, no-gain notion. And what we usually say is, "No-pain, no-gain, no-brain." Exercise is not supposed to hurt, and I think knowing just a few very basic things about the muscular response to exercise is pretty critical.

    How do you know if you have overdone it?

    If you are starting on an exercise program and you are immediately sore, that's very common and is to be expected. And usually, as long as you are not in pain, then you can probably continue with that exercise program.

    But there is something called delayed onset muscle soreness. If you're only exercising a couple days a week, and you're not particularly sore immediately, but two days later you are, then that means you did overdo it. That is something that most beginning exercisers do not pay attention to, but they need to adjust for it and cut down.

    What are some common injuries that are sustained by new exercisers?
    Common injuries are usually knee problems, ankle problems and hip problems. If you really overdo it, then you probably are going to hurt your back. Injuries are usually associated with over-exercising and not having the proper equipment or footwear.

    How quickly can people expect to see results?

    Aerobic changes are going to take time, so you need to be persistent, rather than expect immediate results. If we were to do aerobic power measurements on you at six weeks, we wouldn't see any change, though things are occurring at the cellular level.




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    Senior Member Rasputin's Avatar
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    The other thing that happens around six weeks is that you're going to be really tired. Changes are occurring physiologically in the body, and your red blood cells are adapting. Many individuals reach that fatigue point and they don't continue past it.

    With strength training, the results actually occur very fast. When we do physiological measurements, we can see changes in muscle protein called nitrogen retention, which indicate that muscle mass is building within 24 hours of a good workout.

    If people do something for cardiovascular fitness, and worked out intensively three to five times a week, and we took you into a lab and measured your cardiovascular fitness, we would see improvements that would reduce your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

    If your goal is to lose weight, does the type of exercise matter?

    If you're interested in weight loss, it may not be about the intensity of workout, but the consistency of it. You need to commit yourself to doing some kind of exercise that is different from your daily routine seven days a week.


    It doesn't have to be the kind of exercise that makes you sweat or that you really get really exhausted after. It can be what we call moderate exercise. Moderate exercise includes things like working out in the garden or adding walking to your day. But you do need to do that seven days a week if you're looking at weight loss.

    How can people monitor how hard they're working?

    One of the best ways to get an idea of your intensity is to see if you can talk during a workout. If you can actually say something and not have to gasp for air while you're saying it, then your intensity is probably okay.

    If your goal is cardiovascular fitness, then you really need to pay some attention to monitoring your heart rate. There have been numerous studies that have shown that you have to get within a particular zone in order for you to achieve some goals.

    But, if you're doing lower levels of exercise, it's probably not necessary to monitor your heart rate.

    How important is stretching?

    Stretching is very important. You should pay some attention to stretching before you exercise and afterwards. Many individuals only stretch before they exercise, but studies show the soreness is diminished if you stretch after exercise.


    In general, one should warm up first with some type of big muscle activity, such as walking briskly, and then stretching will be more effective. The best type of stretching is slow and sustained, which means after reaching the final position, the stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds.

    Each major muscle group should be stretched. The major muscle groups are the abdominal (or trunk) muscles, the spine erectors (the muscles of the back), the leg extensors (the muscles that allow you to straighten your legs), the arm extensors (the muscles that allow you to straighten your arms), and the pectoralis muscles (the muscles of the upper body).

    Each stretching exercise should be done three to five times. Stretching should be done at least three days a week or before and after an activity.

    How important is hydration?

    Many beginning exercisers pay very little attention to hydration. They think that they're really tough, or that they don't have to hydrate because they're not doing high levels or high intensity exercise, but they really do. The individuals who are most prone to problems with heat exhaustion or heat stress are individuals who are not fit.


    They don't necessarily have to drink carbohydrate drinks that have electrolytes in them, but water is very important. And a lot of individuals don't drink before they exercise because they think they're going to have to go to the bathroom right away.

    Also, if you pay some attention to your hydration, you'll have less of a tendency to cramp, particularly in the legs. What happens during exercise is there's a shunting of blood flow to the muscles, so it is best if you are hydrated. But, if you are cramping, just very simple stretches, like standing a couple of inches away from the wall and leaning forward with your hands to stretch the backs of your legs, will help.

    Can supplements be helpful?

    Many individuals who exercise are enamored with the notion that supplements are going to be shortcuts. They look at vitamin/mineral supplements or power drinks or energy boosters. For the most part, these do not work.

    At this point in time, the supplement industry is not regulated. Many of the things that end up in supplements are actually things like natural amphetamines and they're very dangerous. You'll feel good for a little while, but you might be dehydrating yourself and elevating your heart rate abnormally. So I would recommend staying away from them.

    Learning about a healthy diet is probably a better idea. Your money is better spent on good food.




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