Safely kick start your fitness resolution

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Googe
  • 908th Safety Office
As Reservists, it's our responsibility to maintain Air Force Fit to Fight Standards; however for some of us, setbacks happen. Illness, injury, a crunch time at work or hectic family schedules can cause any of us to fall off the exercise wagon.

So with the holidays behind us and a  new year ahead, maybe you're thinking it's time to transition from the couch to the treadmill. Good idea! However, before you jump gung ho into a new fitness routine, keep these tips in mind to prevent injury:

Start Slow, Gradually Increase Time and Intensity.
You may have a lot of enthusiasm and decide to go crazy with your workout, but this approach could set you up for injuries right away. Instead, set realistic expectations. Assess where you're at physically, and then break your fitness routine into achievable goals. Moderate exercise for about 20-30 minutes, 3 times a week is a good starting point, then gradually build up to the best exercise intensity for you.

Consider a Personal Trainer.
A good trainer can get you started safely and help get you working out correctly on your own. A few sessions may be all you need.

Warm Up, Cool Down and Drink Water.
Take 5 to 10 minutes to properly warm up and cool down before and after exercise. Avoid dehydration by drinking fluids before, during and after physical activity. Proper hydration also means better performance during workouts. 

Avoid Overuse Injuries by Mixing it Up.
Don't stick to just one machine or one exercise. If focusing on cardio, try alternating between the treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc. This allows you to work various muscle groups and gives your joints a break.

Listen to Your Body.
Delayed muscle soreness that starts 12 to 24 hours after a workout and gradually goes away is a normal response to a new fitness routine. If you experience any sharp pain, weakness or light-headedness during exercise, pay attention. This is your body's signal that something is wrong and you should stop exercise and check with your doctor. Pushing through acute pain is the fastest way to develop a severe or chronic injury.

Take Time for Rest and Recovery.
Besides getting enough sleep, it's important to take a rest day or two. Working out too much for too long can lead to overuse injuries like stress fractures, stiff or sore joints and muscles and inflamed tendons and ligaments.

Dress Properly.
Use the appropriate safety equipment for your workout which includes choosing the right footwear. Replace running shoes as needed and dress for weather conditions to avoid hypothermia or overheating and dehydration.

Exercise safety is all about prevention. Trying to make up for lost time and going from couch potato to exercise enthusiast overnight is a prescription for injury. Take it slow and build the intensity as you go. Before you know it, you'll be feeling more fit and well on your way to a new you in 2015!