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4 Fitness mistakes to fix -- now!

Sarah Wassner Flynn is a New York City-based writer. She's contributed to magazines such as CosmoGIRL!, National Geographic Kids, Runner's World, Women's Health, Prevention and MetroSports New York. She is also the author of The Book of ...

Fitness faux pas

If you exercise regularly, we applaud you. But if you're making the wrong moves as you sweat it out, your workout may be working against you. Here are four common fitness mistakes and ways to break those bad habits fast.

Exhausted Woman After RunFitness mistake #1: You don't take breaks

You absolutely cannot start your day without a workout. Or perhaps you haven't skipped a run since 1999. Though there's nothing wrong with consistency, your body will eventually break down if you don't give it a little rest. Constant pounding from exercise -- also known as overtraining -- can result in injury, illness or both. So try to pick one day a week when you just kick your feet up and relax instead of pounding it out at the gym. And if you just can't quit your daily workouts? Do something extra-easy on your off day, like a hike, a swim, or a leisurely bike ride.

Fitness mistake #2: You push yourself too hard

You're the kind of gal who loves to feel the burn. Your motto: No pain, no gain. That's the only way you'll see any results, right? Well, not quite. While it's cool to challenge yourself each time you work out, pushing yourself to the point of pain or exhaustion every time can ultimately lead to an exercise-related injury. So the next time your knees buckle after a cardio class or your legs throb when you step off the treadmill, take some time off and see a doctor straight away. The quicker you tend to an injury or ailment, the faster you'll be able to get back to your fitness routine.

Fitness mistake #3: You only do one thing

Every workout is the same: Stretch, run, lift, stretch, run, lift. Stuck in a rut much? One of the most common complaints about exercise is boredom, so switch things up to avoid the monotony. The easiest way to do this is to focus on different parts of your body during each workout -- for example, your arms and back one day, your legs and butt another. Don't be afraid to check out different machines at your gym, or try out resistance bands or a balance balls instead of the standard dumbbells. And when it comes to cardio, skip the spin bike in favor of a belly dancing class or something that's just as fun as it is fab for your body.

Fitness mistake #4: You skip warmups and cooldowns

You hop on the treadmill, crank it up to level 7, and bang out 5 miles. You feel great afterwards -- until, that is, the next morning, when you wake up with extremely sore shins and calves. Is this the price you must pay for pounding? Not necessarily. You can avoid major muscle soreness as well as injuries with a proper warmup and cooldown. Even if you simply stretch and then walk for 5 minutes before you start to run, you'll get your muscles ready for motion. And once you're done, don't just head to the showers: Take time to wind down with some easy activity and more stretching. Your body will thank you in the morning.

 

More about workouts:
How to speed up recovery after a workout
4 Warning signs that your workout isn't working
How to stay committed to exercise

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