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3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Workout and Avoiding Injury

Updated on April 20, 2015

Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.

Planning ahead before working out can make a world of difference in how you feel during your workout and afterwards.

Whether you're running, walking, playing basketball, swimming, biking or taking an aerobics class, here are a couple of important tips that you can easily implement to get the most out of your workout.

1. Choose the right shoes

Out of all the things you may buy for your favorite exercise activity, it's the shoes that make the biggest difference.

Forget the expensive workout clothes. Looking good at the gym or when you hit the pavement may help you mentally feel good, but physically it won't do much for you. However, your choice of shoes will make a huge difference.

The pair of shoes you choose needs to fit the sport. Fitness shoes are designed differently and vary greatly.

For example, running shoes are designed to give you maximum support for the forward motion in running. They have very little support for walking or lateral movements (e.g., movements done in aerobics classes).

Walking shoes typically have a flatter, wide base towards the heel for more support and stability.

Aerobic shoes (sometimes called "studio" shoes) are designed for a wide range of both forward and lateral movements.

Wearing the wrong type of shoes during your workout can lead to ankle, knee or foot problems, which, down the line, can become serious.

In addition to wearing the right type of shoes, it is important not to wear them past the "prime" of their life. The rule of thumb is: use your fitness shoes only for your workout and after 100 hours of use, retire them and get a new pair. After 100 hours, the support in the shoes starts to break down.

Signs that you need a new pair of workout shoes may include:

  • Low back pain
  • Knee pain
  • Ankle pain
  • Sore arches

When you retire you shoes, consider donating them to a good cause rather than ditching them in the trash. Many homeless shelters will take shoes or they can be donated to a place like Goodwill or the Salvation Army.


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2. Hydrate before and after your workout

It's important to hydrate your muscles well in advance before working out. Drinking 8-16 ounces of plain water about an hour before your workout will leave you well hydrated and give you something to sweat out.

I personally find that starting my workout without being well hydrated leaves me feeling sluggish and it makes the workout feel even harder! Why make it harder?

Lack of hydration can also leave one more prone to muscle soreness and muscle damage. If you feel thirsty at any point during your workout, that's a sign that you are already dehydrated!

After exercising, down another 8-16 ounces of water to replace the fluids you lost.

A word of caution: sport drinks and energy drinks are really not the way to go. Most of those are full of sugars, caffeine and/or chemical additives that, in the long run, can be unhealthy.

If you are well hydrated and "fueled" up (see the next section) before you workout, there is no need for an energy drink!


3. Fuel up

Making sure you are adequately "fueled up" before working out will help you get the most out of your workout.

Eating a small healthy and nutritious snack about an hour before will give you energy and will keep your blood sugar from bottoming out.

Healthy snack and foods to consider trying:

Before a morning workout:

  • Small bowl of oatmeal
  • Yogurt with low fat granola
  • Toast with peanut or almond butter

Before an afternoon or evening workout:

  • Apple with peanut butter
  • Banana
  • Yogurt
  • Celery and peanut butter
  • Small box of raisins
  • Small handful of almonds

Small, healthy snacks like these will help your blood sugar stay even and give you a little boost of energy!

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What is your favorite type of exercise?

While I personally don't really like to exercise, I found that I needed to start exercising after a serious car accident 25 years ago. I had to learn how to walk again and I knew that if I wanted to have any sort of quality to my life, I was going to have to exercise on a regular basis.

As someone who hated to exercise, it took me awhile to find something that I liked and something that I could stick with. For me, it's been Jazzercise classes (dance aerobics). I've been taking and teaching Jazzercise for over 18 years now and I realize that it has literally saved my life - it's given me a chance to live normally and enjoy life.

If you are someone that is currently not exercising but knows that you need to do something - the first step is to find something you like. If you end up doing something you don't like, odds are you will not stick with it long term!


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    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Tammy - thanks for stopping by. I tried running once and had a hard time with it myself. I was always the kid that was the last one in when we had to run around the school yard for gym class!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina

      This is great, helpful information. I have tendon issues in my knees that makes running difficult. Great hub!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @VeronicaFarkas - thanks for stopping by and sharing! This time of year is a great time to be thinking about new or the right pair of shoes with all the new years resolutions:)

    • VeronicaFarkas profile image

      Veronica Roberts 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Very practical and useful advice/tips. Shoes are SO important. I'm glad that you touched on that! =] I'm sharing this one!!

      (Voted up & useful!)

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @nifwiseirff - thanks for stopping by. Glad to hear the insteps helped you out! I know it's sometimes hard to stay motivated, especially when sick. And even harder to get back into it if you take a few days off because of illness. Sometimes it feels like 1 step forward then 2 steps back!

    • nifwlseirff profile image

      Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

      For me, walking (gentle hiking) for long distances, regularly works best. It's hard to keep the motivation up when battling a chronic illness, or recovering from an injury. The right shoes (and insteps if needed) are extremely important to prevent injuries - I wasn't able to walk before I got my insteps made!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @alexa001 - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed it:)

    • alexa001 profile image

      alexa001 6 years ago from HOLTSVILLE NY

      Hello friends, This is pretty interesting post. I enjoyed to read this post. Thanks

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @Gypsy Rose Lee - thanks for stopping by and I hope you did take a break to get some exercise in:) Sometimes it's hard to tear ourselves away from the computer!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Great tips and this hub makes me realize that it's time to get up from behind the comp and do some exercise.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      You are definitely right that finding an exercise you like is one of the biggest factors for motivation. My bigger problem is finding motivation when it's cold and dark outside. I always do better exercising when the weather is nicer.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @Alecia and @cherylone - thank for stopping by. Alecia, I hope you find something you like!

    • cherylone profile image

      Cheryl Simonds 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Kris, excellent tips especially the one about finding something you like. :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I don't like exercise but I do love the benefits. For me, I've been using the treadmill but I hope to start a class of Zumba or something more interactive. Great hub!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @Leaderofmany - I am still amazed at how shoes make a difference. I can always tell when it's time to change them. I get these unexpected low back and knee pains and get that 'I'm feeling old' thing going on in my head and then I realize it's time to change those shoes - what an immediate difference it makes!

      @bloggernotjogger - thanks for stopping by! We have definitely become a more sedentary world!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @Debby Bruck - thanks for stopping by. I wish I had a beach nearby to go walking along...I think I'd like to walk more. But I do from time to time go to our local state park and walk the trails which is almost as nice:)

      @RTalloni - I love to garden too:) I don't get out and do it as often as I should though!

    • bloggernotjogger profile image

      bloggernotjogger 6 years ago from La Cala de Mijas, Spain

      Good hub. In our sedentary world, it´s important to promote exercise whenever possible.

    • Leaderofmany profile image

      Leaderofmany 6 years ago from Back Home in Indiana

      Great tips, the shoe one is awesome. I believe many over look the shoes because a good pair of shoes can be costly. Great hub

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      These are super tips to heed. Gardening is my favorite exercise, but I walking is the one I attend to most regularly. I would like to pick up Pilates again... :)

      Voted up!

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 6 years ago

      Hi Kris ~ Good points for exercise preparation. I like to go for walks, that's my favorite way to exercise out and about with the fresh air. Blessings, Debby


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