Work Up to Working Out

If warm spring temps are inspiring you to get active and shape up, good for you! Just make sure you warm up and work your way into athletic activity gradually. Here are six rules to stick to when jumping into a fitness routine.

Rule 1: Warm up. Muscle tissue becomes less flexible as we age. So warm up by walking for a few minutes, then slowly begin stretching your back and legs before moving on to more intense movement.

Rule 2: Work up to it gradually. Increase your activity in increments of no more than 10 percent a week.

Rule 3: Perfect your technique. Some sports injuries (like tennis elbow) happen because you’re not making the right moves. So if you’re intent on playing a game you don’t know, get some coaching—even if it’s only from a DVD or book.

Rule 4: Treat your feet to the right stuff. When you plan to devote time to a sport, find out what shoes are best. Ask other players, coaches, and the folks at your local sporting goods stores. The proper footwear can help protect you from trips, falls, and injuries.

Rule 5: Wear a helmet. Did you know that adults are twice as likely as kids to die from a head injury? So if you ride a bike, swing a bat, or inline skate though town, always wear the headgear.

Rule 6: Hydrate. Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration and replenish the fluids and nutrients you lose during workouts. Have a glass of water before you begin, and take a break every 20 to 30 minutes for more H2O.

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