Exercise is good for you unless you take it too far. Pushing yourself beyond your limits can cause fatigue and injuries and suppress your immune system. Stay fit with these techniques that prevent overtraining and help you recover if you’re feeling sore.
1. Address control issues. People who become obsessive about exercising tend to be high achievers who value feeling in control. If that sounds like you, you may benefit from setting more modest goals that will protect your long term health.
2. Cultivate a healthy body image. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to look like the pictures in bodybuilding or fashion magazines. Celebrate your own best features and maintain a body weight that’s appropriate for your build.
3. Monitor your heart rate. You can estimate your target heart range by subtracting your age from 220. It’s usually safe to stay within 60 to 80 percent of that figure.
4. Pay attention to the weather. You’ve probably seen people who run outdoors even during thunderstorms and heat waves. If you feel uncomfortable skipping even a single day, substitute indoor activities while you work on adjusting to a more moderate pace.
5. Make your workouts more social. Exercise buddies can help to enforce a reasonable level of intensity if you get carried away when you’re on your own. Join a yoga class or visit the community pool.
6. Focus on having fun. Exercising frequently is wonderful if you’re having a good time. If you look forward to going to the gym without feeling like it’s an obligation, hold onto that positive attitude.
7. Establish a regular and varied routine. Gradual conditioning is your best friend. Target different body parts on different days so they all get time to recover. Consistency helps you avoid the weekend warrior syndrome where a mostly sedentary desk worker suddenly tries to play basketball all day.
8. Stretch more. Expanding your range of motion will prevent many injuries. Take time for static and dynamic stretches.
9. Clarify your priorities. Make exercise a valued part of your life, but keep up with all your needs and responsibilities. Spiritual attainments, relationships, career and leisure interests are also important to your overall well-being.
Recovering From Strenuous Workouts
1. Get plenty of rest. Heat packs, ice and anti-inflammatory medications may all provide temporary relief, but rest is the best medicine of all. Your body uses the time in between workouts to heal and become stronger.
2. Learn about delayed onset muscle soreness. Feeling sore for a day or two after a tough workout is normal as your muscles try to adapt. Minor discomfort confirms you’re making progress.
3. Give injuries time to heal. Experiencing pain or being too stiff to tie your shoes is a different matter. Give yourself some time off or take a gentle walk. See your doctor if the pain persists.
4. Stay hydrated. Drinking 2 to 3 liters of water a day will speed up your recovery. The fluids flush waste products out of your muscles and make it easier for your blood to circulate.
5. Get a massage. Massaging sore muscles provides quick relief and may even make them stronger. Some studies show that massage reduces inflammation and helps cells take up more oxygen.
An active lifestyle keeps you looking and feeling better. Most experts agree that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 3 days a week is all many people need to see dramatic benefits. If you have any questions about how much exercise is safe for you, talk with your doctor about developing a safe regimen that will keep you fit and free from injury.