Simply deciding to get up and start moving is an important step. But you also need to make sure you’re doing it safely by following these helpful activity hints:
- Ask your healthcare provider for suggestions. Certain ailments may limit what you can do or require that you be a little more cautious when exercising. But almost anyone can find an enjoyable activity that fits his or her lifestyle.
- Get the right gear. Buy athletic shoes that are comfortable from the moment you put them on and replace them every six to nine months, or about every 250 miles. If you’re in the market for a good walking shoe, look for one that’s flexible in the forefoot and has good shock absorption, a firm heel and good traction. And dress in layers so you can add or remove clothing as needed.
- Warm up. Getting your blood flowing beforehand helps loosen up muscles and joints and can prevent injury. Your routine may include jogging in place or walking for five minutes. Breathe slowly and deeply.
- Stretch it. Stretching after a warm-up helps bring blood flow to the muscles and improves flexibility. To get your leg muscles going: Put one hand on a nearby wall for support and grasp the opposite ankle with the other hand. Gently pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretching sensation—not pain—in the front of the thigh. Tighten up your tummy muscles, keep your knees close together and hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
- Take it easy. Move slowly through each stretch or activity to make sure you’re doing the moves correctly.
- Hydrate. Drink enough water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. That means quenching your thirst about every 20 minutes or so while you exercise.
- Slow down the pace. Reserve the last 10 minutes of your routine for cooling down. Slow your motions and lessen the intensity.
- Rest. Don’t exercise the same muscle groups two days in a row.