New to the Gym? Here Are 6 Tips to Help You Exercise Safely

smiling people on planet fitness cardio machines
Proper form and safety are important if you want to make the most of your workout.

by Steven Auger

 

Starting a new gym routine is exciting! There's a lot to learn and a lot of fun to be had. Of course, embracing exercise can also lead to many health benefits if your workout routine is well-developed and safe. Before your first day at the gym, study up on these tips so you can exercise safely.

1. Warm Up and Cool Down

Before driving your car on a cold winter day, you warm it up, right? Your body needs similar attention before exercising. Ease your body into working out with some dynamic movements like windmills or huggers. You can also try some shoulder rolls, arm and ankle circles, and leg swings at the start of your next routine.

Likewise, cooling your body down following your gym session allows you to transition out of your workout comfortably and gradually. A solid stretching session can also help your body repair the muscles you've been exercising.

2. Make Sure the Shoe Fits

Workout shoes can be classified into three categories: running, training, and walking. Pay special attention to the width, length, flex, and feel when shopping for a pair. Another important factor is whether a shoe properly supports your arch and Achilles tendon. Remember to replace your gym shoes every six months or so.

3. Hydrate!

Water quenches your thirst and helps flush toxins out of the body in an effort to prevent disease. It also plays a role in maintaining your metabolism. Water is your friend, both in and out of the gym! Drink water throughout the day, carry a water bottle with you at the gym, and ensure that you stay hydrated while you work up a sweat.

4. Watch Your Form

Maintaining proper form when you exercise is critical to preventing injuries. Whether you're bench pressing on the Smith machine or simply racking up miles on the treadmill, you'll want to ensure that your stance and posture are looking good and that you're engaging the right muscles.

As the National Federation of Professional Trainers notes, improper form during strength training can result in harmful strains or tears in tendons and muscles. Proper form helps keep you safe and ensures that you're targeting the correct muscles for your exercise. If you have questions about form — or anything else gym-related — don't hesitate to ask a trainer.

5. Listen to Your Body

It's important to listen to your body, especially if you're starting to feel sore muscles. After working out, you may find that you feel some stiffness or aching. If so, reward your hard work in the gym with a rest day. You might also consider getting a massage or spending a few minutes using a foam roller to relieve soreness. Be sure to get plenty of sleep too, as sleep allows your body to recover — and it's during recovery that the muscle-building process begins.

6. Double Your Fun

A workout buddy can be more than just someone to talk to in between sets. They can help you out! Not only will you be more likely to show up to the gym if you're meeting someone there, but they can also help make sure you maintain good form during your exercises. This way, you can avoid any bad habits you might otherwise develop while focusing on your workout. Oh, and don't forget to have fun and catch up!

Be proud of yourself for establishing your new exercise regimen, and remember to exercise safely. Your body will thank you!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.