So you’re hitting the gym, running a few miles or even just walking around the neighborhood every day to enhance your health. Good for you! Regular exercise, regardless of intensity, will contribute to cardiovascular health and a healthy brain function. Recent studies show that movement also goes a long way to ward off depression and boosts overall mood and well-being.
But everyone can benefit from fine-tuning their exercise routine to get the most from their workout and protect joints and muscles from injury. Here are a few simple points of advice from the fitness experts:
Think about your feet – Instead of moving through the standard heel-to-toe step, lead with your heel and roll through your entire foot before pushing off with your toes. This can turn a stroll into a power walk and engage your shins.
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Pump your arms – Making your stride more energetic and purposeful will pick up your pace, which will burn more calories giving you a better cardio workout. Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle and punch them forward and back, rather than across your body.
Go backward – This will build your coordination and work your quadriceps while alleviating any shin pain. First, practice on a flat surface like a running track before trying it on a treadmill. Gradually increase your speed.
Take longer strides – Many runners try to go faster by taking more steps more quickly, but this is tougher on knees and lower back. Longer strides will support healthy joints. You’ll feel more of a gliding motion instead of pounding the pavement.
Increase the incline – Running on a treadmill is easier than running outdoors on real terrain. Start by setting it at a 1 percent gradient, which mimics outdoor conditions. Over time, you can increase the incline. This will make you work harder and increase your speed for when you go back to the outdoors.
Try walking – Slowing down now and then doesn’t make you a wuss. For every mile you run, slow down and walk for a minute. It will enable you to run farther.
Don’t slouch – Good posture is crucial to injury-free and effective strength training. Tuck hips slightly forward, engage your lower abs, and keep your ribs lifted. This will allow you to work more muscles and give you more stability. With a stable body you’ll be better able to lift weights with a controlled, fluid motion, avoiding jerky moves which can lead to injury.
Take it slowly – Slower is more effective because it uses movement of muscles rather than momentum to move the weight. This will lessen stress on the joints. Take two seconds to lift the weight and four to lower it.
Full range – Be sure to take every exercise through its entire range of motion, avoiding shortcuts. You’ll work the entire range of the muscle.
What is your favorite tip for a safe and effective workout?