Exercise newbies tend to make the same mistakes when starting a new fitness regimen. Here are the five most common fitness mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Too Much Cardio
Many people associate exercise with cardiovascular exercise. We think of running, jumping, and biking where you sweat a lot and your heart pounds. Cardio is crucial for heart health, as well as for maintaining the maximum volume of oxygen that gets pumped throughout the body, BUT cardio alone does very little to increase muscle strength and it can cause repetitive use injuries if you do the same exercise over and over.
2. Too Little Resistance
At some point we all became convinced that lifting heavy weights would make us big and bulky. I am here to tell you that most really big and bulky weight lifters are genetically prone to large muscles and/or have added hormones (steroids) to the mix. Muscle tissue weighs more than fatty tissue, but takes up less space, helps to stabilize and move our bones, and burns more calories even at rest. Resistance training builds muscle, and muscle keeps you strong and slim.
3. Over Exercising
There is nothing more frustrating than spending hours every day exercising, only to discover that you are not losing weight or getting stronger. As it turns out, too much exercise is as bad for us as too little. When we work too hard constantly our bodies respond by trying to slow down our metabolism and hold on to any fat we can. Generally, we need about 30-60 minutes per day and that's plenty.
4. Ignoring Your Core
If you have ever hurt your back while exercising, you know how bad it can be when you ignore your core. Your back, abdominal, and glute (butt) muscles are crucially important to breathing, posture, and correct movement. In my view, all exercise should be core exercise in the sense that you should be aware of what your spine is doing at all times.
5. Not Stretching
I am a firm believer in body balance - that our muscles should be both strong and flexible so they can tighten easily when needed and move easily when needed. Muscles that are too tight or too loose will not give good support to your bones and will cause them to move in an imbalanced way (think of a folding chair that is so warped that it won't lock into place for sitting or fold easily for storage). Stretch at the end of your workout when your muscles are warm.