Fitness Articles

Dos and Don'ts of a Successful Fitness Plan

Avoiding Common Fitness Pitfalls

1.2KSHARES
Starting a fitness program doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you are armed with the proper tools to get things rolling. Once you’ve committed to getting in shape, there are several things you can do to ensure you’ll exceed your short and long term fitness goals. There are also some things you should avoid at all costs to ensure you stay on the path to fitness and wellness. What exactly are the rules when it comes to fitness?

Do
  • Write down your fitness goals. You’re more likely to stick with a program once you have set some specific goals.
  • Assess your current fitness level before starting an exercise program. By doing so, you’ll be able to establish goals that meet your specific fitness needs.
  • Consider talking with your health care provider before embarking on a fitness program, particularly if you are struggling with a health condition such as diabetes or obesity.
  • Always warm-up before your workout and cool down afterward.
  • Don’t overdo it! Try doing too much at once and you’ll burn out swiftly. Slowly increase the intensity of your workouts.
  • Diversify your workout routine. If you do the same exercises day after day, you’ll quickly tire and are more likely to skip workouts.
  • Work out with a friend. You’ll help motivate each other.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts.
  • Start small. Aim for just 10-15 minutes of exercise when you're just starting out.
Don’t
  • Over-train. Your body needs time to recover in between workouts
  • Skip breakfast. Eating breakfast will jump-start your metabolism and provide you with the energy you need to get through the day.
  • Skip stretching. Do it after every workout.
  • Skimp on sleep. It'll give you the energy you need to focus on your exercises.
  • Set unrealistic goals. A healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. If you have 50 pounds to lose, don’t expect it to come off overnight--you’ll set yourself up for disappointment.
  • Compare your successes and failures to others. Everyone is unique, and what works for some may not work for others.
  • Work out randomly. Work out on a consistent schedule to maximize the benefits and help you form the habit.
  • Give up. Consider talking with a friend in times of discouragement.
  • Forget to reward yourself on occasion. Just don't use food as your rewards.
"One of the most common mistakes first-timers make is taking on too much at once. You’ll be too sore and too tired within a few short days to continue. Always start out slowly, ALWAYS." - D. Cavalone, Personal Trainer

Always remember to keep an open mind and remain flexible when starting a new exercise routine. At times you may find it necessary to change your routine slightly. Life is a dynamic ride and you’ll find your fitness journey is too. If you’re willing to try new things and set reasonable expectations, you’ll reap the rewards of your fitness program and successfully achieve your fitness goals. 
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About The Author

Antigone Arthur Antigone Arthur
Antigone is a freelance writer and proud mother. She has been researching and writing about pregnancy, breastfeeding, infertility and alternative health solutions for more than 10 years.

Member Comments

  • Thanks for sharing. - 10/26/2013 6:02:16 AM
  • I was always told to stretch before exercising. If not your body will tell you later. - 10/21/2013 8:47:09 PM
  • I have fibro and I have to strech before I even get up. If I don't I can't move. These are slow stretches. Ever notice that cats and dogs stretch whenever they get up. Well, it works for me, I'll stick with it. - 5/18/2013 12:41:52 AM
  • All great advice. I'm not sure if I am reading a different version than everyone else as my article does not mention stretching before exercise (it tells us to do a warm up and a cool down and to stretch afterwards - great advice). My article also does not mention anything about mini-meals as its focus is fitness, not nutrition. I'm a little confused by some of these comments, but I did enjoy the article and found that it contained some great reminders. Thanks for the useful information. - 3/22/2013 8:32:13 PM
  • DENISE02124
    Good day.. I have restarted my exercise at the gym for 3 weeks now.. what I do is gradually add a few minutes for each week.. start at 10 min.. , 12 minutes, 14 mine (for each area of excercise for one hour). I alternate the routine each day I go, so I wont get bored too quickly.. So next week it will be 16 minutes of each area.. seems to be okey to me...I then go up to 30 minute for each area and then start over... this time I added dumb bell program... I find that I do a little warm up and stretching before I start for only a couple of minutes and that seems to release the tension in my joints... as for rewards I dont do a reward after because usually its dinner time after the gym thats my reward.. but before I go to the gym I eat a yogurt or fruit so I wont get to hungry.. - 3/22/2013 3:39:13 PM
  • SIRRAHAR
    Why is everyone commenting about stretching before working out, if you really read this article it tells you not to stretch before it says "do not forget to stretch after". The article tells you to warm up before working out that is different from stretching. - 3/22/2013 8:37:32 AM
  • The article does not say to stretch before working out. - 12/26/2012 10:54:24 AM
  • STITCHER0104
    I'm a physical therapist working in a bariatric clinic. I recommend spark people to my clients and was horrified to read an article that tells people to stretch before exercise. There is overwhelming research and literature out there that contradicts this, one of the leading ones is from the Mayo clinic. Exercise physiologists, trainers and coaches who have been in my clinic agree. Please correct this misinformation. - 6/7/2012 9:05:01 AM
  • When I was a dance teacher, I arrived at the studio and just started stretching without any warm up and tore my hamstring. That was 30 years ago and I still feel it to this day. Warming up first, even if it is just a little moving around, is super important. Also I agree that the 5-6 mini meals doesn't work for everyone or anyone that has food addictions. Too may opportunities to overdo. What helps me is sticking to 4 planned meals of 400 calories. - 6/6/2012 11:13:46 AM
  • I am a Senior, active my whole life; so have a few years experience with the stretching issue.
    Don't stretch before starting exercise. Fine; stop and stretch after you are warmed up but save the the real stretches for after your done as part of your cool down.
    And finally your not trying to be a pretzel. slow sustained stretches that are not uncomfortable work just fine. Skip the bouncy moves and ones that obviously are not in your reasonable range of motion. - 6/6/2012 9:08:49 AM
  • I do not do well grazing, mini meals, whatever you want to call it.

    for me it turns into 5 full meals somehow

    I do far better eating 3 good, solid meals a day and maybe having some yogurt or something when I first get home from work. - 6/6/2012 8:22:00 AM
  • KATHIE_B
    I agree with the previous poster. Several mini meals a day may work for some people but its not a "one size fits all" solution.

    I have maintained my weight loss for over 4 years now and sometimes I am really surprised by some the the do's and don't I find here. - 6/6/2012 8:05:43 AM
  • I don't know that the advice about the several "mini meals" per day works for everyone. Grazing is a problem for me, particularly when I'm sitting at my desk and bored. And even if I packed 3-4 mini "meals" to cover the portion of time I'm at work, I'd eat 3/4 or it before noon for no other reason than it was there. Having a set breakfast, lunch and dinner time (averaging 500 calories each), with 1-2 optional snacks based on what I eat at meals, (or if my schedule calls for a late dinner) works far better. Plus, I don't have the time or the creativity to really plan out 5 different things to eat every day.

    Incidentally, I also find that I feel nauseous or have other problems if I eat anything an hour before a workout. The focus should be on hydration.

    On the issue of stretching before a workout; I think the idea is to do a warmup with moderate stretching before working out, just to get the muscles ready for exertopm. Deep stretching should generally only be done after a workout. I make an exception when I already feel exceptionally tight at the start of a workout; generally leg tightness from a prior day's workout or a stiff back and neck from sitting all day long. - 10/20/2011 11:30:00 AM
  • I just did a load of research on this subject. For decades, people said to stretch before and after, but all the most recent, current studies say that you should only stretch after. The author of this article is following outdated information, and needs to fix it. - 7/6/2011 10:36:24 PM
  • thanks for the article, I just got started and doing well but I tend to over-exercise or do nothing at all. I have to keep reminding myself that I have to build a routine up and start slowly... - 1/14/2011 12:09:45 PM
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