To enjoy the benefits of keeping your mind and body in tip-top condition, you may find yourself over-compensating and forming habits that can not only compromise your health and fitness goals but over time do lasting damage. Below are some of the bad exercise habits that you might be doing, and why it’s important to stop them.
First, though, let’s start with why exactly it’s important to workout regularly, when done properly. There are mental and physical advantages of doing so.
Thumbs up for exercise
A sharp mind pairs amazingly well with a healthy and well-maintained body. Indeed, there’s a ton of research that regular exercise can keep us at our most observant, and our most creatively fecund while ensuring that our memories function optimally, whatever our age.
As well as ensuring good cerebral function, regular exercise also keeps mental health issues, such as depression and low mood, at bay that are only exacerbated by lethargy. That’s not to detract from the physical benefits either. Regular exercise ensures that our hearts remain healthy, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as your risk of heart attack, stroke and even diabetes.
And you don’t have to be a dedicated gym bunny to achieve these benefits of regular fitness. But it is important to workout properly, ahem, and avoid these 4 bad exercise habits whenever possible:
1. Overtrain: One of the most common bad exercise habits
It’s not uncommon for women (and men for that matter) to push themselves to the limit and train every day in the pursuit of fitness excellence. Unfortunately, nothing could be more counterproductive.
Overtraining deprives your body of the opportunity to repair muscles damaged in exercise. All of which results not only in less noticeable gains but hugely increased risk of injury.
2. Scrimp on equipment
Nobody wants to be seen as having “all of the gear and no idea,” and a gym bag bursting with expensive equipment does not a fitness enthusiast make, but be sure not to go too far the other way. Under-spending on the gear that will ensure not just your physical gains but your personal safety is the very essence of false economy.
Running, for example, can be an enjoyable and therapeutic exercise but given its high-impact nature it can play hell with your joints if you’re not properly equipped with the right shoes for your foot type or the best insoles for flat feet. Likewise, ladies who like to lift do themselves a disservice if they don’t invest in a weightlifting belt, which can reduce the risk of damage to the lower back in movements such as squats or deadlifts.
3. Coast on the treadmill
Do you ever see those people at the gym who are forever on the treadmill but never seem to so much as work up a sweat? They may be burning calories, sure, but they’re likely doing little to improve their health and fitness.
Jogging away at a leisurely pace is (aside from being boring) counterproductive as your body’s calorie consumption will plateau after a while and it will acclimatize to the change of pace, meaning very little difference in heart rate which in turn means that your exercise has very little point.
A far more effective technique is to mix things up with some high intensity interval training. Thus, you’ll alternate between short intense bursts and more leisurely lulls to recover.
4. No warm up or cool down
We’ve all been guilty of this, especially busy parents and professionals who can barely snatch a few minutes at the gym before or after work. Whatever time constraints you may face, you owe it to your body to take the time to warm up and cool down with stretching and light exercise before and after your workout proper.
Failure to do so runs the risk of muscle and joint stiffness. And that situation can temporarily reduce your mobility and derail your goals or, even worse, do lasting damage.