9 things to get right when exercising

Couple doing dumbbell front lunge

Whether you’re new to exercise or you’re a regular at the gym, it’s important to approach exercise with the right mindset, as well as the proper form.

“It’s easy to make a few mistakes, especially if you’re new to exercise, but it’s not hard to correct those mistakes,” says Tyler Waclawski, employee well-being manager for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “You just have to be intentional.”

Here are the most important things to get right when you exercise.

Get these things right

Tyler Waclawski: When you decide to exercise, you’re taking a big step in the right direction. You’re committing to your physical health, as well as your mental health. To get the most benefit, here’s what you need to do for yourself:

  1. Set realistic expectations. Be honest with yourself when you start planning your goals. Consider your overall health and current fitness level, as well as your schedule and availability. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much, too fast.
  1. Start slowly. Don’t attempt an ambitious exercise routine if you’ve been sedentary for a while. Any movement to avoid sitting is good movement, but you don’t want to overdo it. This could lead to potential injury. Instead, start small and build up gradually. Go for a walk on a regular basis or start with light weights while strength training. Once you have a good foundation, you can add more time and intensity to your workout.
  1. Ask for help if you need it. If you’re not sure how to use that weight machine, or you don’t know how to stretch correctly, don’t guess. Good form and technique matter! Reach out to a professional and ask them to help you learn how to do the exercise correctly.
  1. Keep a positive focus. It’s tempting to focus on the potential weight loss from exercising. But the number on the scale is one small piece of the puzzle. Exercise has so many other benefits for your health and well-being. It can increase your energy levels and reduce your stress levels, as well as help you sleep.
  1. Warm up and cool down. Take the time to warm up before exercising and to cool down afterward. You’ll reduce your chances of getting injured. 
  1. Listen to your body. Nobody knows your body better than you do. Mild soreness is normal when you start a new exercise routine, but don’t try to push past that point just for the sake of completing a workout.
  1. Stick with it. Consistency is key to getting the most benefit from exercise.
  1. Celebrate the wins. Make sure to set short-term goals along the way, as well as long-term goals, and celebrate when you reach them. It gives you something to look forward to, and it’s fun!
  1. Rest and recover. Give your body time to rest and recover from moderate-to-intense exercise. It helps your muscles repair themselves and get stronger. You can also make the most of your rest days by embracing active recovery, which includes low-intensity exercise.

Change up your exercise program

Tyler Waclawski: Don’t be afraid to change things up. Incorporating different kinds of exercise can challenge your body to work a little harder. It can also help you avoid getting bored or burned out.

“Don’t be afraid to try something new. It’s never too late to restructure your workout,” says Tyler. “Find the activities that make you the happiest and follow that approach. The best kind of exercise is the exercise that you’ll want to do regularly.” 

More from Tyler Waclawski on WellTuned

Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson is Nashville-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years of experience. She specializes in health care and family issues.

More Posts

Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.