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The Do’s and Don’ts of Cardio Exercise

Whether you’re brand new to cardio exercises like running, walking, cycling and swimming, or whether you’ve been it at for some time, there’s always new things to learn.  Knowing  what to expect and how to take care of yourself during sweat sessions will ensure that you have a more effective workout.  So if you want to get fit while reducing your risk of injury, here are a few simple dos and don’ts when doing cardio exercises.

DO start off slowly. If you’re on the newer side to exercise, start with a walking program. It’s incredibly easy to injure a muscle or ligament while exercising and starting slowly will help minimize your chances. Create a weekly workout schedule and plan on increasing pace, time or a combination of the two a little bit each week.

DO research and speak to trainers at the gym about proper form and technique for all exercises. While everyone tends to have a unique running style, machines like the stationary bike and the rowing machine require some knowledge about the technique.  Again, this is to make sure your knees and back stay in tip-top shape.

DON’T work through the pain. As soon as you feel the slightest ache, pain, strain or pull, stop what you’re doing. Sure, it could be just a sore muscle, but it’s sore for a reason – it needs a break.  If you end up with a more serious injury, the additional exercise will only worsen the condition and increase the recovery time.

DO stretch after each workout. While stretching before physical activity has become more controversial, stretching after a good cardio session is always a good idea. It helps relieve tension in your muscles and works to keep you flexibile. 

DON’T get caught up with numbers.  Knowing calories, pace and time have it’s place, but sometimes the numbers can overwhelm the workout. Instead of working out to achieve specific numbers, work out to feel good, listening to your body first.

DO carry a water bottle with you during every cardio session. Even if your gym has little cups of water for you, it’s not enough. You should be drinking while you exercise to avoid becoming dehydrated. Click here for a guide to determine how much you should drink before, during and after physical activity.

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