With the COVID-19 pandemic closing down gyms and fitness centers across the country, many people have had to adjust to working out at home. While exercising at home offers many advantages, like not having to fight traffic to get to the gym or deal with the awkwardness of shared showers, you may be wondering if you’re doing your home routine correctly. At home, you don’t have the benefit of consulting trainers or covertly watching the local gym rats to see if you’re doing everything safely and effectively. Let’s explore some of the most helpful tips for safely working out at home.
Don’t Skip the Warmup
No matter where you exercise, you’ve probably been guilty of not warming up before starting your workout. However, warmups are essential in preparing your body for exercise. This preparation can help reduce your risk of injury as well as increase your performance.
The goal of a good warmup is to elevate your heart rate. This sends signals to the rest of your body that it’s time to start moving. Among other things, warming up helps redirect blood flow to your muscles, which makes them more pliable, increases your respiratory rate, and ensures your muscles get enough oxygen. Luckily, all of this doesn’t take too much time. Start every workout with warming up for about five to 10 minutes. If you have a heart rate monitor, use that during your warmup to determine whether you’re ready to start the real exercise. Another good indication that you’ve warmed up sufficiently is that you’re sweaty by the end of your warmup.
Protect Your Joints
Your body’s joints bear the burden of your weight and help you move throughout the day. Both of these responsibilities are exacerbated during exercise, making it important that you do everything you can to protect them. This is why gyms and fitness centers often have surfaces and equipment with padding on them. As joint overuse is one of several factors that increase a person’s risk of developing osteoarthritis, you’ll need to recreate this protection for working out at home.
The most important piece of joint protection to have during any type of body weight or strength training exercise is an exercise mat. The right mat can help provide the proper cushioning to protect your joints as you bend, jump, and move throughout your workout. A carpeted area in your home may work well in place of a mat, but it depends on the carpet and the type of workout you’re doing. If you notice unusual soreness in your ankles, hips, knees, or wrists after exercising on carpet, switch to an exercise mat.
Wear the Proper Footwear
Although exercising at home gives you the ability to roll off the couch and go straight into a workout, it doesn’t mean that you should. You need to be wearing the right shoes for any workout. If you’re going to be spending some time running on the treadmill, make sure that you have your running shoes on. If you’re doing strength training, wear training shoes that provide plenty of lateral support.
The biggest mistake when it comes to footwear and exercising at home is wearing socks, moccasins, flip-flops, or other types of casual footwear. These types of footwear can lead to sports injuries and increase your risk of slips, trips, and falls. Going barefoot is even preferable to wearing these types of footwear, particularly if you’re doing workouts such as yoga or tai-chi.
Even though you’re working out in the comfort of your home, you need to remember to take as many precautions as you would when you were exercising out in the wider world. Just as you would take the time to do things like getting a pre-participation physical exam six to eight weeks before starting a sports season, you need to take the time to warm up at home, find the right footwear, and get the right equipment to protect your body. Exercise is meant to make you healthier and it’s hard to do that if you injure yourself in the process.