Five Things You Should Know Before You Work Out


It’s January first again…or six weeks from your class reunion or two weeks before your oldest daughter’s wedding and you’ve decided to work out. Yay! Good for you. I’ll bet you can’t wait to get started. But hold on there sunshine. There’s a few things you ought to know before you lace up your sneakers and get going. Specifically, here are five things that will help keep you healthy, happy and safe as you exercise.

1. Get Cleared for Takeoff.

Have you been to your doctor lately? Have you seen her this month? How about this year? Maybe this decade? If you haven’t seen your doctor in a while, or don’t even have a doctor, you might want to think about starting here. Find a doctor, or see you doctor and make sure that you’re generally in good working order. Find out if there are any limitations on how much or what kind of exercise you can do.

2. EASY Does It.

It’s tempting, especially if just bought a slinky new dress or Speedo swimsuit to go a little crazy when you first start to exercise. How many times have you started an exercise program, done way too much, and then spent the next three days on the couch with heating pads, Ben Gay and aspirins? One exercise session won’t make you fit, no matter how intense. If you want the benefits of fitness, you need to do it consistently 3-5 times per week. And you can only exercise again if you didn’t get hurt during your last session. Not sure how much is too much? Hit the “Rock the Block” link in the tools section of the website.

3. Watch your dashboard indicators.

Most of us, treasure our cars. We wouldn’t think of ignoring a “check engine” light on the dashboard. We wouldn’t continue to try to drive on a flat tire. We wouldn’t drive blithely by with a loud thumping noise under the hood. But how many of us, ignore the signals our bodies give us as we’re trying to exercise? ). If you’ve ever stretched something too far, or popped something out of place, you’ve probably experienced either severe muscle tension or pain. This pain is the proverbial thumping noise under the hood. If you experience pain, you need to STOP, pull the car over and figure out what the heck is going on. Here are some warning signs you should never ignore as you work out.:

Warning Signs

  • Feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling of tightness or pain in chest, trunk, back or jaw
  • Extreme breathlessness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Allergic reactions—hives or rash
  • Blurred vision

4. Ramp Slowly and Steadily.

Once you’ve determined your starting point, it’s only natural for you to want to get stronger, faster and fitter than you are

now. But before you go ramping up your fitness efforts too quickly, too steeply or too often, it helps to remember the three basic parameters of any workout. These three parameters are duration, frequency and intensity. Duration is simply how long you work out. Is it ten minutes? 30 minutes? Two hours? Intensity is how hard you work out. Are you walking 2 miles an hour, 4 miles per hour or running 7 miles per hour? Are you strolling casually or sweating bullets? And frequency is how often you work out. Is it once a week, twice a week or every day? I use the acryonym DIF to remember these elements, because changing these elements makes a DIFFERENCE in your fitness level.

The key to ramping safely and successfully is to only increase one workout parameter per week and not more than ten percent. So if I increase my frequency from two workouts per week to three, I should not increase the intensity or duration of that workout. If I ramp from 1 mile per hour to 1.1 miles per hour next week, the frequency and durations of the workout should stay the same. Probably the easiest element for beginning exercisers to change is duration (or distance). For a handy chart to help increase duration by 10% per week, check out the 10 Percent Meter in the Tools section of

5. Have Fun!

You are a lot more likely to stick with any exercise program if it’s fun. Explore what kinds of exercise you like to do. Be brave! Try something you never thought you’d do like Tango dancing lessons or surfing. Most people stick to exercise longer if there are other people involved. Find a group of people or a class that you enjoy and make some connections. Remember the best form of exercise is the kind you’ll do every week.

There are lots of other things you can learn that will make your exercise program more productive and more fun. You can find many of them at But many of the best fitness lessons are learned while exercising. So check with your doctor, plan a short and easy workout, check in with your body and make sure that everything is okay, make a plan for getting just a little stronger every week, and then just go out there and have a great time!

This article shared with permission from, where you can find even more great articles, tips, videos and expert motivation from Jeanette!

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