Exercise is essential for our physical and emotional well-being. Exercising increases blood flow which carries oxygen and nutrients around the body. It can also encourage your cardiovascular and respiratory systems to perform better. However, we need to avoid some common workout mishaps to maintain a healthy exercise regime.
Not taking time to perfect your form
Your form refers to your posture and technique while carrying out exercises. It may seem obvious, but it’s one of the most common mishaps in exercise, often leading to falls and muscle strain. During exercise, whether you sit or stand, your body will be in several different positions. It’s essential to learn the best way to hold yourself and align your body while carrying out the exercise. For example, while doing the plank, you need to ensure your back is straight and your overall posture is correct. Failing to perfect your form while exercising is one of the leading causes of injury and muscle strain. While exercising, stay mindful of how your body is feeling, as pain can indicate poor form.
For example, many individuals head to the gym and power through exercises on multiple pieces of gym equipment – with a running machine or rowing machine being popular options. However, without taking time to learn the correct form, you increase your chances of injury.
Taking time to perfect your posture will help you use your muscles while exercising instead of relying on momentum. At first, it may feel challenging to ignite specific muscles as you may not be used to using them. However, it will ensure that your exercises are quality-focused rather than quantity focused.
The following is a list of some of the most popular posture recommendations for exercise:
- Keep your neck and spine inline.
- Always keep your back straight.
- Use your stomach muscles to keep your pelvis tucked under and pulled back.
- Keep your shoulders back, relaxed and down.
- Keep your knees relaxed do not lock them.
Overtraining your body during exercise
Exercise is perfect for our overall wellbeing and can help improve our physical and mental health. However, like most things, it is possible to overdo it, especially in today’s society, where we constantly pressure ourselves to succeed. When it comes to exercise, an all or nothing attitude can lead to overexerting ourselves to hit targets, and it’s not uncommon for people new to exercise to overdo it straight away. Many individuals who live a sedentary lifestyle set themselves unrealistic fitness goals and targets, leading to burnout.
Research has indicated that overdoing can be just as bad for the body as not exercising. For example, intense endurance training, such as that completed for marathons, can be problematic for the heart in some individuals. That’s because extreme endurance can put excessive demand on the cardiovascular system. Indeed, a study has found intense exercise can, in fact, ‘remodel’ the heart, thickening the muscle walls and scarring tissue.
Sticking to the same workouts
Our bodies are brilliant and can learn to adapt to stress very quickly. In exercise, that means our bodies can get used to routines. This becomes problematic for those who like to engage in the same kind of exercises, which is very common given we are creatures of habit. Therefore, to get stronger and improve our fitness, we need to keep challenging ourselves. For example, this can be done by adding heavier weights or working for different muscle groups in different ways.
If you exercise at home, try and switch things up; and if you go to the gym, try out different classes on different days of the week.
If we stick to the same exercises, we risk getting bored of exercise, but there are a few different reasons why it can have a negative impact. Firstly, if you are constantly doing the same exercises and working the same muscle groups, you can plateau. This means your fitness doesn’t progress and stays the same. In a similar sense, exercising the same group of muscles can lead to muscle imbalances over time as you are working one set of muscles more than another.
There has also been research into the benefits of cycle-synching exercise for women. Switching up exercise routines can benefit hormones. Cycle-syncing is the idea of women choosing exercises based on how their hormones change throughout their monthly cycle to reach optimum performance—for example, doing lower intensity exercises during the luteal phase.
Not taking time to stretch during warm-up and cool-down
Warming up and cooling down involves a slower pace and reduced exercise intensity to introduce and conclude your exercise session. It’s important for preparing your body for aerobic activity. Rather than going straight into exercise and overdoing it, warming up gradually builds your body temperature and kickstarts your cardiovascular system for exercise. It helps increase blood flow to your muscles, so you are ready for the main part of your exercise session. Consequently, this enables you to avoid injury.
In contrast, cooling down after your workout allows your heart rate and blood pressure to fall gradually to a normal resting rate. It can be one of the most crucial parts of exercise for the most elite athletes. This is because it can help regulate blood flow.
More research is needed to see if warming up and cooling down can help your body avoid muscle stiffness and soreness. However, it does allow your body to ease into and out of exercise, which has its benefits.
Not taking rest days
When we take on a new fitness regime, it’s often advised to take rest days between workouts as they play a role in maintaining our health and fitness. Though sometimes you might want to work out, rest days are advocated for providing the body time to recover from their sustained damage.
There are plenty of studies to show that taking rest days are beneficial for the body to adapt and recuperate from the last workout. Importantly, when we exercise, our body uses our energy stores (carbohydrates) and fluids (sweat). Therefore, rest days provide our bodies time to replenish these energy stores. Several studies have shown that 24 hours is enough time for your body to replenish its energy successfully.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.