Exercise Safety for Beginners When we were kids, we ran everywhere we went – even if there was no rush or we weren’t going anywhere in particular. Sunshine days were filled with outside activities, sports, swimming, tree climbing, and fort building. As adults, many now with office or indoor jobs, exercise and staying fit have a way of getting away from us. If you have fallen out of the habit of regular exercise, here’s how to ease into your new workouts while reducing the risk of injury. Take it slow You may remember breaking the school record in a running event or how spry you were when younger. Unsurprisingly, our bodies change as life changes, with much of our time spent in more sedentary activities, using our brains instead of our brawn. If you used to be able to run 20 km as a teen while hardly breaking a sweat but haven’t run since don’t attempt that run again just yet. Not only has your body likely experienced some muscle atrophy, but your lungs and heart will need to warm up to the idea of endurance workouts as well. Stretching and warm-ups Common wisdom tells us that it’s important to stretch before exercising. Fitness medicine disagrees, finding that for most types of exercise, stretching beforehand is neither detrimental nor beneficial. Apply your own sensibility when deciding whether to stretch before exercising. Martial arts, for example, are a physical activity that benefits from stretching before throwing that first kick. Warm-ups with some forms of exercise can be useful to get your blood and adrenaline flowing before more strenuous exercise. Many fitness runners start their run by walking first. It’s also okay to alternate between more strenuous activity and less demanding types of exercise. This gives your body a chance to “catch its breath”. If you’re not training for a triathlon, pacing yourself is perfectly acceptable and can be safer. Most effective exercises You may have trouble getting a room of fitness experts to agree on the most effective exercises, but a handful of exercises and activities consistently make the list. When trying any exercise for the first time or after a long time away from that exercise, always think about what can go wrong. For example, with weight lifting, use a spotter. For planks or pushups, start by doing your exercises over a padded carpet or use a padded mat. Don’t do your pull-ups over the cellar steps, etc. Low impact exercises: Tai Chi Walking Cycling Kayaking Stair machine Elliptical Pushups and planking Sit-ups & crunches Choose an activity you enjoy It’s often easier to start a new fitness regime than to stay at it. Choosing an activity that you enjoy can help make getting and staying in shapeless of a chore. If possible, find ways to liven up your workout with other activities. For example, bring your camera phone on walks, runs, or cycling outings and take photos. If you need new photos for your Instagram or Facebook page, you just may need to walk, run, or bike a little further to find something new to share with the world.