A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Smart Health: The start of a new year is a good time to set, and follow through on, new fitness goals

Kristen Mees
St. Elizabeth Healthcare

If frequenting the gym is on your list of 2018 resolutions, you’ve come to the right place. From stretching to correctly using gym equipment and creating healthy new habits, St. Elizabeth Healthcare is here to back up your 2018 fitness goals.

Stretching: keep it simple and effective
For both gym newbies and gym regulars, stretching should be a priority.

“It’s never too late to incorporate stretching into your routine,” says Meagan Dunn, an outreach athletic trainer at St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Northern Kentucky University Recreation Center. “Stretching can decrease joint stiffness and muscle tightness, improve your posture and range of motion and often help with your overall performance.”

Meagan suggests incorporating the following stretching tips into your fitness routine:

  • Warm up: make sure those muscles are warm! Ten minutes on a stationary bike will help if you want to stretch pre-workout.
  • Go for comfortable, not painful: stretch to the point where you feel a good pull that’s comfortable, not painful. You never want to feel pain while stretching.
  • Hold up: hold each stretch for 20 seconds.
  • Repeat: doing stretches a second time helps to get it a little deeper.
  • No bouncing: ballistic stretching can cause injury. Keep it smooth and steady.
  • Give it 10: It should take about 10 minutes to properly stretch after your workout.

Start the new year with new habits
It’s easy to be motivated to hit the gym at the beginning of the year. However, many of us can fall into the “too much, too soon” category when it comes to starting up a fitness routine.

“We’ve all done it – push ourselves to the max the first day and getting really sore,” says Meagan. “This gives us a negative view on exercising and makes it harder to get into a solid fitness routine.”

Instead, focus on starting light and building onto your fitness plan daily. You will see results, but it takes time, patience and perseverance. Make sure to mix it up too – doing the same things over and over quickly gets boring. Incorporate weight training, cardio and fitness classes to round out your gym experience.

Am I doing this right?
Using the gym equipment can be daunting, especially if you’re new to the gym scene. Keep these quick tips and suggestions in mind:

  • Free training: many new gym memberships come with a few free personal training sessions. Make sure to ask for this perk while signing up for your membership – and take advantage of it right away.
  • Look for pictures: most equipment has pictures on the machines that show you how to use it. Watching gym regulars work on the equipment also can give you a good knowledge base.
  • Ask a professional: if you aren’t sure how to use a piece of equipment – just ask! The trainers at your gym are educated and certified on how to use the equipment and will be happy to demonstrate for you.
  • Check with Google: the internet is your friend. There are countless YouTube videos that can show you how to use any type of gym equipment. Google it, watch it a few times and take on the machine with confidence during your next workout session.
  • No pain: make sure you feel the exercise on the target muscle, which should be highlighted on the machine. If you feel other muscles engaged, you’re likely not doing it right or have too much weight on the machine. You shouldn’t feel discomfort or pain.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare: a partner in your health journey

St. Elizabeth is your healthcare partner, every step of the way. It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician prior to beginning any new workout routine. Call (859) 655-7400 to schedule an appointment with a St. Elizabeth physician.

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