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Are you looking to start or return to a regular exercise routine? Just making the decision to move more means you’ve already taken the first step towards a healthier you – well done! Preparing the way for success is important and there are three steps you can take that will help you reduce the risk of injury and get the most out of your workouts.
Drink water to regulate body temperature and keep joints healthy.
Our bodies rely on water to help get rid of wastes, regulate temperature, keep joints healthy, and protect sensitive tissues. Being dehydrated will make you feel tired and drained of energy—not exactly how you want to feel before a workout.
Feeling thirsty is a clear sign of dehydration, but you can also check the color of your urine: pale or clear urine is an indication that you’re well hydrated, while a dark yellow color is a sign that you should drink more water.
The NHS recommend that we drink 6–8 glasses of water per day, and the key is to start drinking in the morning and continue regularly throughout the day. More hydration tips
The right food can help you stay energised and build muscle and bone strength.
What you eat before and after you exercise is almost as important as the workout itself. Food is your fuel—it gives you the energy to be active and focused, and it also provides the nutrients required to build muscle and bone strength, as well as help the body recover post workout.
Before exercising, try to eat carbohydrates such as bananas, porridge, or whole grain bread. Carbs help maximize your body's ability to fuel exercise. Afterwards eat protein, such as eggs, yoghurt, lean meat or fish cheese, beans or nuts. Protein foods help prevent muscle damage and promote recovery by allowing the body to build new muscle tissue.
Top and tail any activity with a good warm up and cool down.
A warmup raises your body temperature and increases blood flow to the muscles. This improves the stretchiness of the muscle tissue and can help reduce muscle tightness, pain, and risk of injury. Doing an activity or exercise at a slower pace (stretching, using lighter weights) counts and helps to prepare the body for more intense movement.
After moderate physical activity, a 10-minute cooldown allows body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure to return to their normal levels. Cooldown exercises, like stretching, walking, foam rolling, and deep breathing, can help lower your risk of injury and reduce stress to the heart and other muscles.
Stretching can lower your risk of injury and broaden your range of motion.
Stretching isn’t just for warm-ups. Improving your flexibility through stretching helps lower your risk of injury and pain, increase your range of motion and your posture, which in turn helps with body control and stability. And most importantly, being more flexible makes every-day activities like reaching up into a kitchen cupboard or getting up out of a chair.
Stretching is easy to do and will improve with every session but you need to start gently to avoid injury. Warm up with some marching on the spot or walking and when you start a stretch, always moves gently and smoothly into position, stopping when you feel any sort of discomfort. Start by holding the stretches for 10 and 20 seconds, extending to up to 30 seconds. Try these gentle stretches
It’s easy to focus on challenges instead of the benefits but flipping your thinking can really help. Swaps like this:
Not everyone feels confident starting out on an exercise regime. Choosing the right activity and – for some, the right companion – can make all the difference. Try these confidence tips
Would you like to chat to an advisor and get some help making an action plan? We can help you move more with activity ideas to suit you. If you are looking to manage weight as part of becoming more active you might be eligible for kick-start programme, 12 weeks of free vouchers for a local weight loss group.
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