Top 11 Workout Mistakes to Avoid

Learn how to get the most out of your workout regimen by avoiding these 11 workout mistakes.

1. Top workout mistakes to avoid
Exercise is essential for managing your arthritis, but if you aren’t doing it correctly, you could be doing your body more harm than good. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), people tend to make the same fitness mistakes repeatedly – regardless of their age or physical ability. Avoid these top workout mistakes to keep your joints strong and injury free.
2. You skip the warm-up
Warming up raises your body temperature and increases blood flow to loosen the muscles. If you skip it, you risk injury and stiffer joints the day after. It doesn’t have to be complex. Something as simple as marching in place for five minutes will do the trick.
3. You never stretch
Stretching gives muscles a full range of motion and is key in preparing for aerobic activity, especially when dealing with stiff joints. The best stretch? Hamstring stretches. When a hamstring is tight, it can cause misalignment in the pelvis and knees.
4. You forget to cool down
A proper cool-down, which includes deep breathing and long stretches, will get your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure safely back to normal while improving flexibility.
5. You head straight for the heaviest dumbbells
Weight training increases energy and stamina but be careful not to overdo it. Lifting too much too soon can damage the tissue. When weight training, you should feel fatigue by the 12th or 15th repetition, be it a 1-pound or 100-pound weight. Once that becomes easy, add more weight.
6. You excessively huff and puff
A workout that’s too intense can put you in an anaerobic state, which means you aren't getting enough oxygen into your system. That causes joint and tissue pain. How do you know if you’re getting the right combination of aerobic activity and oxygen? Find your target heart rate (subtract your age from 220), then shoot for 40 to 70 percent of that rate. Research has shown that you can improve pain levels and weight loss in an aerobic capacity anywhere after 40 percent.
7. You go too easy
To lose weight, build muscle and maintain energy levels, a good workout means breaking a small sweat and working out at 40 to 70 percent of your target heart rate. However, there is a fine line for people with arthritis. If your pain levels are high and find you are hurting a lot after a workout, you may need to dial down the intensity.
8. You don’t hydrate
When you work out, your body needs extra water to cool off and keep blood circulating. If you’re dehydrated, you aren’t doing either. Drink plenty of water prior to exercise and get another 6 to 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of exercise. Follow the workout with more water to replenish what was lost.
9. You eat for exercise
Unless you are training for a marathon, you do not need extra calories before working out. Also, be mindful of when you eat before working out. If you eat two hours before exercising, your blood flow will be focused on digestion instead of on keeping muscles warm and bringing oxygen to your body. This can result in muscle cramps and nausea.
10. You’re a “leaner”
It’s easy to lean over and rest on the armrests when using stationary equipment, such as a stair climber, but resist the temptation. Leaning may feel easier, but bad posture will only exacerbate joint pain.
11. You’re not focused on form
Make sure you’re using the proper form. Look at yourself in a mirror or ask a trainer to evaluate your positioning. Using the wrong form can cause injury and hyperextend your joints.
12. You’re a little too tough
Pushing through pain is not the thing to do. If your joints are hot or swollen, exercise can increase the damage and cause more pain. Remember, arthritis pain and pain from a strenuous workout are not the same. A little soreness a day or two after a workout is OK. Anything more than that is not.
13. Start Your Routine
Ready to get started? Try our Your Exercise Solution (YES) tool or download the YES Tool Mobile App to find the perfect arthritis-friendly exercise for you.

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