Safety first during lockdown exercise
Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Keeping fit during this lockdown is important due to the wide-ranging physical and emotional health benefits I mentioned in my previous blog, but do you know how to safely stay active?
Those of you who regularly attend my group fitness classes in Reading will be accustomed to hearing me talk about safety during the sessions. That’s why your instructor is there – during group fitness sessions they can advise and assist you to make sure you’re staying safe.
But working out alone can be daunting. Because recognising how it feels to perform a movement correctly is paramount to preventing injuries and stop doing your body more harm than good.
So how can you keep safe during your workout? Here are a few tips:
Always start with a warm up
That’s common sense, I hear you say! Nevertheless, do you know how to warm up correctly? Group Exercise Instructors have two golden rules that must never be broken during a warm-up; no arms above the head and no high impact. Instructors would genuinely – and quite rightly! – fail their exam if they did either of these.
There are clear reasons for avoiding either. Taking your arms above your head will elevate your heart rate very quickly, when we actually want a gradual increase. Whilst performing high impact exercises, such as jumps or high knees, before you’ve mobilised your joints and when your muscles are still cold, is an injury waiting to happen.
The purpose of a warm-up is to gradually elevate the heart rate, mobilise the joints, and dynamically stretch the muscles so that you are ready to workout, with a lower risk of potential injury. You hear us instructors go on about how important it is, but that’s because it’s true. Spend at least 5-10 minutes on your warm-up – more warm-up ideas.
Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated is crucial when exercising. You need to replace the fluids you lose through sweating and breathing. Drinking water can help your body perform better as it regulates your body temperature and helps to transport nutrients to give you energy. Aim to drink water before, during and after your workout to avoid feelings of dehydration such as tiredness, thirst and dizziness. Drinking little and often is advised.
Training too hard or too often can be detrimental to your health. Recovery days are crucial at any fitness level where moderate or vigorous exercise is performed. Following resistance type training, such as kettlebell classes, you may need to rest more regularly than with dance fitness classes. It’s a misconception that the more you work out, the better. Rest days are necessary to avoid injury and fatigue – your body needs time to recover and build muscle. As a general guide, take a rest day every 3-5 days. You’ll thank yourself for it in the long run.
Never skip the cool down
The cool-down is just as important as the warm-up, so even if you are short on time, plan for this section of your workout. The purpose of a cool-down is to gradually bring your body back to its pre-workout state. You should aim to bring your heart rate and breathing rate down gradually to avoid feeling light-headed or dizzy. Static stretches are then used to lengthen the muscles and help reduce the soreness or stiffness you may feel. Maintenance stretches should be held for 10-15 seconds, but if you’re aiming to improve your flexibility then developmental stretches can be held for up to 60 seconds.
Stretch all major muscle groups and especially the muscles you target in your workout. Try using a foam roller or a tennis ball to help release any muscular tension – these are good alternatives to a sports massage at the moment. That said, having regular sports massages has many possible benefits, so think about trying one when you can. They can reduce muscle tension or pain, increase range of motion and increase blood circulation. For those in Reading, I highly recommend Ali Tovey, owner of Mending Muscles.
Exercising should be an enjoyable experience with many benefits. But remember to be aware of your body. If an exercise does not feel right, stop! The expression ‘no pain, no gain’ has no relevance here. You should never be in pain when working out. Aching due to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)? Maybe. But your workout should make you feel energised, not sick and in pain.
If you are interested in staying active at home, why not join our online dance fitness classes. During the Covid19 lockdown we are offering these workouts at a reduced rate. Please contact us to find out more.