If you have taken on a fairly demanding physical activity for this year’s wellness challenge, here’s my advice:  be kind to yourself! Below are some ways that you can be kind to yourself and minimize risk of injury when you are working your body harder than usual.

1. FIRST – Make sure you have learned proper form for your activity. One way to do this is to get some coaching here if you’re trying something new. You should be very careful to not strain your neck or back (i.e., respect your spine, eh!). And, as you are starting to work on your form, start with very little resistance (weight). You won’t be perfect right away, but make it a point to always use good form.

2. Work to increase your overall flexibility, especially for the limbs you will be working. Flexible limbs and torso support a wider range of motion.  That allows your exercise activity to be more effective.

3. Be aware of your balance, especially if you are doing free-standing activities. You can find exercises and activities online to improve this, or talk to a trainer, coach or physiotherapist.

4. Keep your workout area as uncluttered as possible, especially your floor!

5. Make sure any equipment you are using is in good working order. Tighten the collars on your weights if you’re using them. safe.

6. Start ahead of your target start date by ramping up. If you want to start with 25 pushups/day on day 1, maybe start with 15 a week ahead of your target date and try to add 2-3 every other day until your target.

7. Make an approximate plan. It should be flexible in case you get invited out for dinner on a workout day (I wish!), but should also guide you by comparing your actual progress to your goals. You can realize right away if you need to bump it up, rather than being WAY behind at the end. Which is say too discouraging – so try your best to avoid that!

8. If you set a reasonable goal, and stick roughly to your plan, and if you work on flexibility and ramp your effort up, you stand a much better chance of being successful in your activity goal.

Support your own success:  be kind to yourself!