Open Accessibility Menu

New Year’s Resolutions and Your Health: Avoiding Injury with Exercise

  • Category: News, Sports Medicine
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Allied Services Integrated Health
New Year’s Resolutions and Your Health:  Avoiding Injury with Exercise

For a lot of us, the new year is a time to recommit to fitness goals or to set ourselves a new goal: running our first 5k; losing a few pounds; going back to the gym; finally making time for a sport or hobby. The temptation is to approach these goals with a more is more attitude. We’re eager to get started and impatient to see results. It’s just human nature.

Unfortunately, this approach can spell disaster. At the very least, the pace and intensity of our activity may not be sustainable in the long term causing us to lose momentum and possibly quit before we’ve achieved our goal. In the worst case, it can result in injury.

Enjoying the process and seeing positive results is possible. Here are a few tips to enjoy your newfound fitness and avoid injury.

  1. Ease into your new workout routine. Setting a goal to run a marathon when you haven’t run more than one mile in the last year is unrealistic. Set smaller, more manageable goals that are appropriate for your current fitness level. Progress your program slowly and resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Be patient and adjust your plan to what is realistic for you.
  2. Create a schedule. Consistency in your fitness program is the key to your success. Studies show that it takes just 6 weeks of consistent exercise to develop a habit, setting you up for further success. That doesn’t mean that you need to exercise every day for 6 weeks! Creating a weekly or monthly schedule that allows for recovery days will keep you focused and dedicated to your program. Choosing a variety of exercises that you enjoy will help you stay motivated to achieve your health and fitness goals.
  3. Don’t skip the warm-up and cool down in your workout. Perform a dynamic warm-up before any exercise routine to slowly increase heart rate and blood flow and loosen stiff joints and tight muscles. An active cool-down will gradually lower blood pressure and heart rate to resting levels. Breathing exercises and stretching can aid in minimizing muscle soreness and in returning the body to a steady state of rest.
  4. Listen to your body. If you feel pain, don’t ignore it. You can expect your muscles to be sore after starting an exercise program. However, persistent pain and extreme fatigue are your body’s way of telling you that you have done too much or damaged it. Seek the advice of a doctor or a physical therapist to prevent an acute injury from becoming a chronic issue.
  5. Focus on form. Chances are, if you do not currently participate in a regular exercise program or sport, you may be intimidated by starting an exercise program and performing certain exercises. Healthcare professionals, such as a physical therapist or an exercise physiologist can help. After a thorough assessment or evaluation, they can safely develop a plan to improve an individual’s ability to move and to achieve fitness goals. Their expertise will help you learn exercises that are specific to your goals, limitations, and interests. They can ensure you are using proper exercise techniques and progress your program in a safe, effective manner. Working with a professional will keep you focused and motivated to achieve your fitness goals.
  6. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Although moderate physical activity is safe for most people, health experts suggest talking with your doctor to determine if your medical history and current health status may interfere with an exercise program. This is particularly important for individuals with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease; and for those undergoing treatment for orthopedic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, musculoskeletal injuries, and low back pain.

Committing to a healthier lifestyle through exercise in the new year can be a fun way to improve your overall health and well-being. These tips can start you on the road to success towards a happier, healthier life in 2022.

THERESA CRAIG, M.S., is fitness manager at Allied Services Aronica Wellness Center in Scranton. To find a Physical Therapist call 570-348-1360 or explore our Outpatient Rehab Centers here.