Fitness Articles

Common Fitness Blunders - Part 1

Even Experienced Exercisers Can Be Guilty of These

Both beginners and experienced exercises can be guilty of a few fitness blunders from time to time. Some may even become a regular part of your fitness routine, much like a bad habit. But, to get the best results from all your hard work, it’s important that you don’t find yourself creating a fitness routine filled with mistakes. This can set you up for injury, lack of results, boredom and plateaus. Analyze your fitness routine on a regular basis and ask yourself if you fall into any of these common blunders.

Blunder #1: Skipping the Warm Up, Cool Down, and Stretches

This is one of the most common bad habits of exercisers! You finally committed yourself to a fitness routine, and you don’t want to waste any time, so you jump right into your work out without warming up, cooling down, or stretching. After all, those low-intensity segments are meaningless and a waste of time, right?

NOT TRUE! Warming up, cooling down and stretching should be the foundation of your exercise program. They should be viewed as a transition into (and out of) exercise, allowing your body and mind to prepare for running, jumping, or strength training. Here is what you gain from proper warm-up, cool downs and stretching sessions:
  • Your muscles and connective tissue loosen to prepare for the stress of exercise
  • Oxygen and blood flow to your muscles and connective tissue increases, providing fuel for better muscular performance
  • Tension in your body decreases
  • Breathing patterns establish, helping relax the body during exercise
  • Joints are lubricated to allow for better performance
  • Muscle soreness is prevented and/or reduced during and after your workout
  • Better body awareness
  • Quicker reaction time
  • Improved posture
  • Improved coordination
  • Quicker recovery
  • Decreased muscle soreness
You’ve probably exercised without warming up properly, for example, and maybe nothing horrible happened. It may seem unnecessary, but consistently skipping it will limit your gains and put you at risk for injury. You could even be injured without even knowing it since you may not feel any pain right away.

Fix it Tip: Try to warm up with a low impact exercise for 5-10 minutes. A light sweat is a good indicator of your body temperature rising. Follow your workout with 5-10 minutes light exercise to cool down, and stretching, head to toe. Most of your flexibility benefits will come from your post-exercise stretch because your muscles will be so warm. To learn more about the differences between these workout components, read our Reference Guides to Warming Up, Cooling Down and Stretching.
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About The Author

Joe Downie Joe Downie
Joe, an exercise enthusiast, is a certified physical fitness instructor and high school soccer coach.

Member Comments

  • Great article. My hubby always tell me that I should stretch. But I don't listen. But I guess I need to read this. I am guilty. So I will do stretching after my exercise. - 12/2/2013 10:48:47 AM
  • I have always been a committed stretcher but somehow lately it has been getting lost in the shuffle. This is a good reminder to me to get back to it so I don't lose my flexibility. - 5/18/2013 10:15:32 PM
  • Good article. I used to use stretches in rapid repetition more as a warm up. But with what I've been reading recently, these are only to be used afterward. Guess I've been doing it all wrong for years. At 52, I only put on the weight in the last three years. - 4/11/2013 6:28:22 AM
  • I am 62 and work out at least an hour and a half 90% of the month, with a warm up at the start and 10 minute total body stretch routine at the end. It helps with my balance, flexibility. - 4/10/2013 12:51:37 PM
    Good info. I'm amazed at the number of exercise videos out there that seem to skip the stretching and warm-up at the beginning or the end. I've also run across a few strength training videos that have you racing through the moves in a way that I am sure is not healthy or safe for the joints. Buyer beware. As someone who has to do low impact and be careful with my joints, I have learned the hard way to trust my gut when trying new videos. There is a BIG difference between being challenged (in a healthy way) and being rushed. Trust your instincts about what feels right! - 4/10/2013 9:32:05 AM
  • In my younger days, I was very stretched out and flexible, but many years and 75 pounds later, not so much. HOWEVER, I started a new exercise activity and began stretching again. I am very pleased to report that you can regain much of your original flexibility!

    I may not be at 100% but I am definitely seing major improvements and believe that if I could discipline myself to put in the time, I could recapture nearly 95% of my flexibility capacity. Even now, in my early 50's.
    - 4/10/2013 9:09:36 AM
  • I always thought starting a workout slowly would incorporate the warmup at the same time without the stretching.
    I'm afraid I dislike stretching. Don't know why. Can't get into it. That's why I don't like yoga. - 4/10/2013 8:56:01 AM
    Great reminders.....esp as we age, w/o scar tissue on torn muscles!!! - 3/16/2013 11:00:30 AM
  • I can't do exercise; but is a great article. I can't take 5 pounds on my hands. I can't pick up a baby born. - 8/21/2012 12:23:37 AM
  • You are so right, we all skip a warm-up, cool-down and even stretching. It is funny because when I teach a class all the above are very large components of the workouot; however if I am working out alone and pressed for time I will skip one of them!! I guess I should practice what I preach!! - 3/1/2011 11:35:20 AM
  • You know I used to TEACH karatedo for 10 years and even I am guilty of skipping a warm up even though I should KNOW better. - 1/20/2011 3:08:10 PM
    Stretching WORKS: Now I'm a dead-ringer for Gumby! - 1/19/2011 8:30:59 PM
    we don't all want to lose weight! some of us are trying to gain...please, a few suggestions on this front. - 1/19/2011 4:39:11 PM
  • I play tennis 60 or 90 min sessions7 times each week on average, just a little warm up hitting before jumping right in. No cool down or streching for me... thats probably why i am almost stiff a board except when I am playing... (cant even come close to toucing me toes)..., but have remained pretty much free of injury or any discomfort since I started playing several years ago. - 1/19/2011 4:16:33 PM
  • The first blunder was a classic "me" move for longer than I care to remember (at least the no warm up and no stretching part was). I always wanted to jump right in and really rushed over the stretching. I started taking dance classes again last year, and over the summer in my Jazz and Hip Hop classes, my instructor had us stretching for 15 solid minutes and it was WONDERFUL and that didn't even include the warm up. I have enjoyed it so much - it has felt so good+, I never leave off the warm up or the stretching and in some of my aerobics classes I even stay a little longer at the end to stretch more because it feels like they're skimping now that I'm used to so long a stretch! - 1/19/2011 8:12:26 AM

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