Staying Fit: Avoid these five fitness mistakes


Perhaps you are already in a habit of working out, exercising regularly. Or maybe you took last month’s column to heart and have set smart fitness goals for yourself. Wherever you are on the fitness and exercise continuum, I’d like to offer some mistakes to avoid. This is not an exhaustive list, but steering clear of these exercise errors should keep you working out longer, and healthier. They are listed in no particular order.
1.     Exercising on Empty – Your body has to have fuel to work, just like gas
for your car. In an effort to control our weight, we won’t eat anything before exercising, thus depriving our body of needed energy. An hour ahead, try an apple and cheese, or wheat toast with peanut butter, or oatmeal with a banana. The best post-workout drink is one serving of chocolate milk (really, I’m not kidding.).
2.     Body Part Fixation – We tend to focus on certain areas of our body and
do exercises for only those areas, thinking that “spot reducing” will work. Doing sit-ups won’t give you a flat stomach, for example. You need to work out your whole body for good health and to burn more calories.
3.     Ignoring Strength Training – Women, in particular, sometimes shy
away from lifting weights because they think they will get “muscle-y,” or “look like a guy.” This is genetically not possible, unless you max out on steroids. Both genders benefits from at least two (three or more is better) times a week of strength training. Muscles burn more calories than fat, AND strength training burns calories for longer, even hours after you’ve lifted weights. Plus, it helps with overall tone of your body and health.
4.     Static Stretching – The old-school toe touches and similar stretches
whereby you hold the stretch prior to working out have been repeatedly shown to do harm to ligaments and tendons. A better way to prepare for exercise is to warm up with jumping jacks, or walking lunges, heel kicks, and the like. This is more of a dynamic warm-up and aids in getting blood into the muscles, which lessens injury.
5.     Too Much Too Soon, or the Quick Fix – Fitness and exercise are not
quick-fix activities. They are a vital part of a healthy and active life. Losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks may sound great but you’ll gain it back because your body hasn’t acquired the stick-to-it habit in two weeks. If you’ve been sedentary, start small and realistic and work up from there. There is no magic pill that will take care of your health and fitness for you. You need to take responsibility for your choices and where those choices have gotten you. Then make better choices and enjoy the long-term benefit of fitness and continued health.
          These are five of the most common mistakes people tend to make, but now you can avoid them and get on with your good health!
Have a topic you’d like addressed in this column? Contact me at the email below and let me know! Let’s keep moving together!
Coming next month: Easy-to-use fitness equipment for your home.
Dr. John A. Page is an associate pastor at Athens First UMC. Go to for his book, “The Almighty in the Ordinary.” Email John at