Seasonal weight gain varies from person to person, but studies show that on the average, people tend to gain 5 to 7 pounds during the winter months. Obviously, exercise can be an effective way to eliminate unwanted weight gain. And as the saying goes, there’s no time like the present!

To create a successful exercise regimen, it’s important to get off on the right foot and develop successful habits. You want to maintain the initial enthusiasm and avoid being de-railed towards achieving your goals. Here are four basic tips to maintaining your exercise journey and preventing injury:

  • Pace yourself: It is safer to start slowly and gradually work up to several days of exercise per week. To prevent heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week. Don’t be tempted to over-exert yourself initially; it is important to recondition your body to perform these strenuous activities.
  • Don’t forget to stretch: Stretching and performing a slow warm up and cool down is extremely important for exercise performance. This can help avoid injury as well as aid in recovery. You are far less likely to injure yourself if your muscles have been warmed up properly.
  • Mix it up: When starting an exercise program, the best strategy is to mix it up! A variety of exercise helps achieve results. Try to incorporate the four basic forms of exercise: aerobic, strength training, flexibility, and balance.
  • Listen to your body: Aches and pains are normal when starting a new regimen of exercise, but it’s smart to give yourself some time to rest. Over-exercising can potentially lead to an injury, so give your body time to heal and repair itself.

These common sense tips will help you begin and maintain your exercise journey. It’s certainly not easy, as we can all attest, but it’s definitely worthwhile. The hardest step is the first: deciding it’s time to do it. Once that decision is made, you’ll be on the fast track to an improved body and mind. Just remember the golden rules of exercising: pace yourself, don’t forget to stretch, mix up your workouts and always, always listen to your body!

This blog is courtesy of Matt Wallen, Director of Rehabilitation at the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home.

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