1. Beware of any instructor who says that exercise must hurt (or “bum”) to do any good. Exercise should require some effort, but pain is a warning sign you are foolish to ignore. If you have continuing pain during an exercise, stop and don’t do it again unless you can do so painlessly.
  2. Control all of your movements if you can’t, slow down. Rapid, Jerky movement can set the stage for injury. Flailing your arms or legs can overstress joints. Instead, as you move your limbs, keep the muscles in them contracted and move them as if you’re pushing against some resistance for instance, squeezing a beach ball or pushing a weight.
  3. Work at your own pace and level of exertion. The pace of many exercise classes is too fast for the average participant, don’t feel constrained to do any set number of repetitions: You don’t have to keep up with the instructor or other exercisers or the beat of the music. If a class includes an exercise that is bad or too difficult for you, substitute another.
  4. Always watch your posture while exercising: keep your back aligned (abdominal muscles contracted, buttocks tucked in, and Knees slightly bent). This is particularly important when Jumping or reaching overhead.
  5. Don’t bounce while stretching. This is called “ballistic” stretching, in which you stretch to your limit and perform quick, pulsing movements. This actually shortens muscles and increases the chance of muscle tears and soreness. Instead, do “static” stretches, which call for gradually stretching through a muscle’s full range of movement until you feel resistance. This gradually loosens muscles without straining them,
  6. Avoid high impact aerobics. Surveys have found that most aerobics instructors and many students suffer injuries to their shins, calves, lower back ankles, and knees because of the repetitive, jarring movements of jumping to a disco beat. Fortunately, there’s a less stressful form of aerobics called low impact aerobics, which substitutes marching or gliding movements for the jolting up and down motion of typical aerobics. At least one foot is almost always on the floor, so the body stays closer to the floor than in conventional aerobics. And arm movement is emphasized to help raise your heart rate sufficiently so the workout truly aerobic. A well designed low impact aerobic routine can easily raise your heart rate enough to provide cardiovascular benefits. Working out more strenuously than enough to provide cardio vascular benefits. Working out more strenuously than that is necessary. In fact, it may stair your body excessively.
  7. for most people, wearing hand and especially ankle weights is not advisable while running, jumping or doing other high impact activities. The weights can distort you form and balance and can increase the chance of injury to knees arms, and shoulders unless you have complete control over them however, light hand weights may be useful in intensifying a low impact aerobic workout.

Don’t forget that even the best exercise routine can become risky if you don’t begin by warming up and finish by cooling down. All it takes to get started is a few minutes of running in place or brisk walking, followed by some gradual basic stretches. And when you’re finishing up, just slow your pace for the last five to ten minutes and gently stretch the major muscle groups you have used.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 13, 1988