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4 common exercise mistakes

To be healthy, experts recommend we exercise most or all days of the week. And whether you’re new to physical activity or have been going to the gym for years, take note of these common exercise mistakes—and make sure you don’t make them.

{1} Doing too much, too soon

You’ve decided to start exercising, and you jump right in, and end up with sore muscles or worse. To prevent injuries, take lessons if you’re trying a new activity; otherwise ease in to exercise, working up to 30 minutes a day.

{2} Avoiding weights

Women in particular tend to avoid strength training, often because they’re afraid of bulking up. But women need to lift weights, as it can help lower their risk of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis and can help keep weight in check. Aim to strength train two to three times a week, and if you don’t know how to use the machines or dumbbells, ask an employee at your fitness center or get a fitness DVD from the library.

{3} Getting stuck in a rut

Walking the same route, doing the same exercise DVD or attending the same fitness class day after day can get boring (meaning you’re more likely to quit) and it can quickly become ineffective: If you’re no longer challenging your body, you won’t get as much out of your workout.

{4} Skipping the warm up and cool down

Take five minutes to walk slowly before you begin, to get your body prepared for exercise. When you’re done, slow the pace and walk for another five to 10 minutes; this can help prevent injuries.