Avoid Fitness Injuries in the New Year

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: January 03, 2012

If you made a New Year's resolution, chances are high one of your 2012 goals includes getting in shape. After a holiday season filled with family gatherings, it's no surprise many people hope to shed a few pounds once the holidays have come and gone.

"Embarking on a fitness routine without considering the basics of proper exercise safety can be a slippery slope resulting in injury, especially for those new to exercise or returning to the gym after a long break," says Timothy Lightfoot, director of the Sydney & J.L. Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine & Human Performance at Texas A&M University. "Most injuries are caused by using exercise equipment incorrectly or being too ambitious, too fast."

Emily Schmitt, a doctoral student who works with Lightfoot in the Huffines Institute, offers these exercise safety tips to ensure your next trip to the gym is injury-free.

Start slow. If you have taken a break from exercising over the holidays, do not expect to pick up where you left off. It is very important to use self-control and listen to your body to avoid injury.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Not all gym equipment is created the same. For example, a leg press machine at one gym is not necessarily the same as a leg press at another gym. You must remember proper biomechanics when using exercise machines. If you are unsure how to use a piece of exercise equipment, ask a professional at your gym for assistance.

Proper Exercise + Proper Nutrition = Success. You cannot have one without the other – diet and exercise go hand in hand. Working out at the gym for an hour in the morning does not make a midnight junk food binge acceptable. Staying on track with nutrition is hard, but it is important to fuel your body with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and water. Diet and exercise are a winning combination that will not fail you.

Find a buddy to workout with. Having a friend push you down the road to fitness is an excellent idea. Accountability keeps us coming back to our fitness routine day after day. After all, you don't want to disappoint your workout partner by not showing up.

Don't expect to see results in the first week. Face it, it took longer than a week to put on the weight, so it will take longer than a week to take it off. Most people give up on an exercise plan too early because they do not see results after the first several workouts. Results will come, but they will take time.