The American College of Sports Medicine has labeled exercise the magic pill for improving our physical and mental health. Exercise can help us prevent or reverse several diseases, including depression — provided we stick with it.
Explore different types and levels of exercise and do what personally appeals to you. You’ll benefit from any increase in physical activity. As you go, here are 5 oversights to watch for:
1. Ignoring your limits: Starting out, people often exercise too much, risking injury. If you have health problems such as arthritis, excess weight or back trouble, check with your health care provider or work with a qualified trainer to learn the best exercise approach for you.
2. Moving too fast: Don’t expect a quick fix. Give yourself time to identify and develop exercise activities that you can succeed with and enjoy for a lifetime.
3. Doing the same old thing: Repeating the same cardio or muscle workouts for several months, your body becomes efficient and reaches a plateau, using less energy and burning fewer calories. Vary your activities as much as possible — for both pleasure and overall fitness.
4. Failing to support your back: Learn proper form, whether you’re doing tai chi or lifting weights; check with your instructor or trainer. When using exercise machines, avoid slumping and keep your back erect.
5. Thinking cardio is enough: Your body needs more than heart-pumping exercise. Strength training your muscles, such as core and upper body, is also important for preserving health.