There are three key elements to any exercise program that should be considered before starting your physical fitness. These elements are safety, effectiveness, and enjoyment. Nine times out of ten people will quit an exercise routine because they do not enjoy what they are doing. Although exercise is not intentionally meant to be enjoyable, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing you won’t get far in achieving your goals. No matter what your goals are with your workout routine, weight loss, muscle gain, or to become fit and healthy, maintaining safety, effectiveness and enjoyment is essential to accomplishing your goals.
When exercising most people have the mindset of “No Pain, No Gain”. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can lead to injury, set backs and ultimately abandoning your fitness program. It is important to understand the difference between pain and muscle soreness to be able to continue on your path to better health. When you engage in exercise, especially when you first start, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is bound to occur. Muscle soreness is due to weak, unused muscles adapting to the start of exercise or activity. Muscle soreness can occur during activity or after activity and can last any where from 12-48 hours. The intensity and length of muscle soreness is determined by the intensity of the workout and the strength of the muscle. Everyday activities only exert a small amount of force on our muscles. If we don’t use our muscles then they become weak and overtime will atrophy, causing the body to breakdown muscles and use the oxygen and proteins in other areas of the body. Once our muscles get used to exercise muscle soreness will dissipate. However, muscle soreness can reappear at any time during a workout or fitness routine, when you change exercises, or increase time, distance and intensity.
Unlike muscle soreness, pain is a signal from our brain to our body telling us that there is something wrong. Pain signals are normally a sign of injury or trauma within the body. There are two different types of pain that can differentiate where the pain is coming from. Acute or sudden pain suggests injury to the body such as a muscle sprain, or strain. The pain is usually abrupt, specific to a part of the body and varies in intensity. This type of pain is usually associated with swelling, inflammation and bruising. Acute injuries while exercising are usually related to improper form or technique. Never bounce or force movements, whereas this can cause muscle strains or tearing. If you continue exercising after all your energy is depleted your form, accuracy and technique will suffer making injury more likely. If you are unsure of an exercise technique ask a health professional such as a personal trainer.
Delayed pain usually is caused by a deeper, underlying problem such as disease, disorder or condition in the body. Symptoms can range from dull to sharp, achy, numbness, tingling, or burning sensations. When experiencing pain symptoms rather than muscle soreness, fatigue or stiffness, it’s important to stop exercising. If the pain subsides, restart exercise with less intensity but be cautious. If pain persists, have a doctor check out the problem.
The effectiveness of ones exercise routine should be based upon ones personal fitness goals. If you are looking to lose weight, low to moderate workouts are the best exercises to burn fat. Every level of exercise has its own exercises, intensity and weight, repetitions and rest periods. Therefore if you have never worked out before or are just returning to exercise after a long break then you need to start out with lower intensity, and weight and higher repetitions and rest periods. As your body adapts to the exercise your muscles will acclimatize and your program will adjust. Make sure your goals match the type of physical activity that you are doing. Personal trainers are a great guide to developing an effective and efficient workout routine. Based on your goals they can tell you the best types of exercises, how long you should workout, the intensity, the repetitions and the rest periods. Not to mention they can monitor your technique and push you towards your goals.
All effective workout routines have three additional components that maximize the effectiveness of exercise. Warm up, cool down, and stretching are three key elements that not only reduce the risk of injury, but assist the body in achieving the best performance while exercising. The warm up increases the blood flow throughout the body and allows the muscles to prepare for physical activity. Stretched muscles not only increase performance but also improve flexibility, agility and mobility. A proper cool down that includes stretching reduces lactic acid buildup in the muscles, which has been known to cause muscle soreness. In addition, the muscles are able to repair and grow, faster.
Although some people can effectively workout and maintain proper physical fitness without enjoying their fitness routine, for most people if they don’t enjoy what they are doing while working out, they ultimately won’t stick to it. Enjoyment while exercising is possible if someone is motivated and driven by the actual activity, by friends or family, or by the goals they set for themselves. Many people enjoy exercising through the act of exercising itself. Whether you play a sport that you love, or you like to run the act of that type of exercise is a motivator that makes you want to perform that activity. Women, more often than men, prefer to have a companion when working out. When women get together they talk and encourage one another, which helps especially while exercising. Plus even if they are doing an activity that isn’t particularly enjoyable, the company of a friend gives them enough enjoyment to complete the activity. Setting goals is the biggest motivation for people to want to workout. Whether your goals include losing weight, building muscle or becoming more fit and healthy, setting accomplishable goals can keep you on the right track to achieving your ultimate goal. Through exercise you stay on track to realizing your goals, which is a great feeling. The more motivated you are the more enjoyable your exercise will become. More enjoyment produces more consistency and greater results!
Sarah Labdar, “3 Key Elements to Enjoy Exercise”, Everyday Health