“Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.”
Starting a new workout plan can be exciting. If you are like most beginners, you probably want to do everything at once. This is a big mistake. By pushing yourself too hard, you will soon lose your motivation or feel too tired to continue. Not to mention that working out can be risky, especially for people who are obese or haven’t exercised in a long time. If you’re planning to exercise at home, it’s important to take some precautions to avoid injuries.
Here are 10 things you need to know before you start to work out at home:
1. Assess Your Health
The first thing you should do is to assess your current health condition. Do you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, asthma, osteoporosis or other diseases? Are you taking any medication for blood pressure? Do you have a bone or joint problem? Have you ever had a stroke? If so, consult your doctor before starting an exercise program as these problems can interfere with your workout. Certain exercises and activities, such as high impact aerobics, are not recommended to those with back pain, arthritis, or cardiovascular disease.
2. Set Realistic Goals
Before getting started, have clear goals in mind. This will keep you motivated and give you the strength you need to succeed. Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds or get rid of belly fat. Maybe you dream of running a marathon. Or maybe you just want to tone up and have more energy. Your goals should be realistic and attainable.
3. Fitness Takes Time
Once you start a workout routine, be consistent and have patience. It takes time to see results. You won’t get fit or lose massive weight overnight. The greater your goals, the more committed you have to be to achieve them. If you’re obese or haven’t exercised for years, don’t expect quick results.
4. Expect to Lose Your Motivation
Be aware that you’ll lose your motivation at some point. Even the world’s best athletes go through this sooner or later. The key is to be consistent and focus on your goals. Reward yourself, break large goals into sub-goals, try new exercises, and do whatever it takes to stay motivated.
5. Learn to Eat Properly
Once you start exercising regularly, you’ll need to change your diet too. Your muscles will require more protein and complex carbs to grow and recover after working out. Now it’s more important than ever to give up junk food and eat clean (limit processed foods). Make sure your meals provide adequate amounts of protein and amino acids, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Base your diet on lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, fruit, and legumes.
6. Know When to Stop
Injuries are quite common among newbies. If you exercise at home, you can easily get injured. Thus, it’s essential to know when to stop from working out. Muscle soreness and fatigue are perfectly normal, but pain, dizziness, and fever can be warning signs that something is wrong. Stop immediately in case of chest pain, muscle cramps, arrhythmia, and cold sweats.
If you injured one body part (like your shoulder), you can still do strength exercises for other parts of your body (for example, legs). Just make sure you allow yourself enough time to recover. Seek professional treatment, if needed. You may also look for ways to change your workout, switch to different type of exercises, or at least do a less intense workout of what you typically do.
7. Avoid Dehydration
Dehydration occurs when water loss exceeds water intake and your body has less water and fluids than it should.
One of the reasons may be strenuous and prolonged exercise, if you don’t begin your workout properly hydrated. When you work out, you sweat and thus you lose water and electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals (for example, sodium, potassium, calcium, to name a few) in your body that carry an electric charge. Electrolytes affect our nerve and muscle function, our body’s hydration, blood pressure, and other important processes.
Dehydration may cause muscle cramps and fatigue. The best way to avoid becoming dehydrated is to drink an adequate amount of water both during and after exercise. The optimum fluid intake during exercise depends on many factors, such as the intensity and duration of the exercise, the physiology of the person, the environmental conditions, to name a few. However, it is not necessary to consume fluids during exercise of less than 30 min duration.
8. Exercise Can Be Painful
The health benefits of exercise can not be denied. However, it’s important to be aware that exercise can cause soreness. If you’re out of shape, or push yourself hard, or do unusual exercises, you may experience muscle soreness or/and joint pain.
It’s normal to have sore muscles after you work out. It goes away within a few days. To speed up muscle recovery, you can take whey protein or glutamine. These supplements help your body recover faster after intense exercise. To prevent muscles soreness you need to start off with lighter exercise.
Joint pain can also be caused by overuse or injury. However, you should not stop exercising. Exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the joint and minimize the risk of further injury. You only have to do it safely. You may seek physical therapy: a physical therapist can determine the best exercises to relieve pain.
9. Use Proper Equipment
Bodyweight exercises are a great choice for those who work out at home. If you are thinking about purchasing some of the exercise equipment, the first things you need for working out at home, is an exercise mat and an exercise (or stability) ball. However, if you’re serious about your at-home workout, consider buying resistance bands, a set of dumbbells, and a barbell. Depending on your budget, you can also purchase a home gym or a treadmill. These accessories will help maximize your workout. They can also lower your risk of injuries and help you lose weight or build muscle in less time.
10. Exercise Can Be Boring
Keep in mind that exercise can be boring. However, this isn’t a reason to stop working out. There are plenty of ways to avoid routine – try new exercises, use new machines, or change your exercise routine.
Simple things, such as buying new workout clothes, asking a friend or loved one to join you, or trying a completely new activity may boost your motivation. Be creative and find new ways to spice up your workout and make it more challenging!