These four questions can help guide you in exploring new activities.
What's the best exercise for you? The one you'll do. To stay motivated and challenged, try something new. The questions below may get you thinking about what you can do to expand your range of physical activities.
What factors should I consider when choosing a new exercise?
Your answers may include:
Personal enjoyment or interest — Choose something that sounds fun or that you've always wanted to try.
Convenience — How close to home or work is the activity? How easily does it fit into your schedule?
Social factors — Do you prefer to participate with others or do you like to exercise alone?
Required skill level — Can you take a class or meet with an instructor if you need to?
Level of physical impact — Does the activity involve high-impact movements that may not be suitable for you?
What's best: an exercise focused on a specific part of my body — such as abs or thighs — or several kinds of exercise that use different body parts?
Abdominal exercises will help strengthen muscle and improve your posture but will not help you "spot reduce" or lose weight around the abdomen. The key here is burning calories. Aerobic (cardio) exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories, and there are many different types to try, such as bicycling, jogging and working out on an elliptical machine. Cross-training, which alternates your workout routine with various exercises, can reduce your chance of injury to a specific muscle or joint due to overuse, and it can help alleviate boredom.
What if a new exercise I try causes pain?
Exercise that causes pain isn't beneficial and can result in serious injury. It also can crush your motivation. Stop any activity if it hurts — and then try something else! It's normal to experience some soreness after trying a new exercise but not pain.
What steps can I take to help prevent injury while exercising?
Warm up before exercising. Start with a less-intense (slower, easier) version of your cardio activity for 5 to 10 minutes.
Wear proper shoes and protective gear.
Take precautions in inclement weather. For example, if it's very cold out, dress in many layers that you can remove as you warm up, and cover your mouth so your lungs don't get irritated; avoid jogging if it's icy and slippery.
Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercising.
Cool down after exercising. Do a lower-intensity version of what you did during your workout for 5 to 10 minutes, or try some general cool-down exercises.