To help you gear up safely, we called on some experts to pinpoint common exercise mistakes and tips to remedy them.
Mistake #1: You neglect water intake
The fix: Drink up
Fluids are key to keeping a body in good working form, and they also keep skin hydrated and joints lubricated. “If you’re feeling arthritic or are having aches and pains, some of that could be due to dehydration, or dehydration can exacerbate it,” says Brittany Link, MSW, R.D., a nutritionist with Advice for Eating in Houston, Texas. Dehydration can also lead to fatigue, muscle cramps and headaches. When you’re sweating, you need plenty of water to replenish fluids. Link recommends drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day – and more in warm weather. For instance, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink a minimum of 70 ounces of water daily.
Mistake #2: You rely on sports and energy products
The fix: Eat nutritious food
“Unless you are an elite athlete, you don’t need to replenish things like electrolytes,” Link says. “You’re better off replenishing other nutrients with real, whole foods.” While energy products are convenient, they are not necessary, and processed sports bars, drinks, gels and powders can contain high amounts of sugar and sodium. Instead, eat real foods
to get your daily dose of potassium, antioxidants and omega-3s to promote healthy recovery of muscle. In addition, fill up on high-fiber foods that help you feel full longer and aid in digestion, such as beans, berries, lentils and broccoli.
Mistake #3: You overextend yourself
The fix: Take baby steps
When exercising with others, a sense of competition and peer pressure can let other voices drown out your inner signals. “Our human tendency is to go big or go home, but that can put you at risk of failure, frustration and injury,” says Lee Jordan, an American Council of Exercise certified health coach from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. “Instead, think ‘dream big and plan small.’ This will keep you from burning out and quitting, or worse, getting stressed out and having a flare-up.” Just because you’re not competing in Ironman races doesn’t mean your efforts are in vain. Small milestones, not record-breaking times, will help you meet long-term goals in a healthy, safe way.
Mistake #4: You overindulge after a workout
The fix: Stick to a sensible eating plan
Just because you’re exercising doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. Link refers to this as the “I’ve earned it” mentality. “But most people overestimate how many calories they actually burn. This can easily lead to weight gain and frustration.” Replace the urge to indulge with the smart habit of eating to boost immunity. Instead of letting exercise serve as a free pass, it should act as a signal to take care of yourself. “Working out can be hard on your body; a strong immune system will keep you training longer and stronger,” she says. “Eat whole foods to support it.”
Mistake #5: Forgetting to warm up and cool down
The fix: Five minutes of stretching before and after
Stretch to prepare joints, ligaments and muscles prior to exercise and to loosen them afterward. “Stretching is an integral part of every workout, not an afterthought or an option,” says Jordan. “It will relieve stress, reduce the risk of injury, and make recovery time faster and easier.”
Mistake #6: You under-think your outfit
The fix: Pick clothes that protect your skin
It’s important to be comfortable when you work out, so think twice about the fabric you’re sporting. “Breathable materials are a must – especially when you have psoriasis,” says Christa Causey, M.S., with The Causey Effect in Phoenix, Arizona, which offers nutrition counseling and strength training programs. She says most modern apparel is made to wick away sweat, and that’s exactly what you want. “Sensitive skin needs to be protected from irritation,” she says.
Mistake #7: You neglect self-care
The fix: Take a rest day
Remember to incorporate regular breaks as part of your regimen. “Simple rest is important, but so is taking purposeful action every day to incorporate calming, good-for-you habits,” says Causey. She emphasizes getting plenty of sleep, practicing excellent hygiene and skin care, and optimizing nutrition to support your fitness goals. She also suggests adding one day of calming stretches to your weekly routine, by doing yoga or using a foam roller, which can work wonders. (Check out this free webinar
with Brian Blevins, DPT, a physical therapist at Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Beaverton, Oregon, for ideas on great stretches to try at home.)
Managing stress: take 20 breaths
“It’s a delicate balance, because while exercise can relieve stress, overdoing it can actually cause stress,” says Lee Jordan, an American Council of Exercise certified health coach from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. To calm the body and mind, he suggests the following stress-relieving method after exercising.
The 20 breaths technique
Sit comfortably with eyes closed or softly focused. Let your stomach expand and contract as you breathe in and out for 20 slow breaths. As you inhale and exhale, think of your stomach as a balloon inflating and deflating, placing your hand on your abdomen area. Count to three as you breathe in, and repeat as you breathe out. After you’ve completed 20 breaths, be still for a moment to soak up the benefits.
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