Fitness is a lifelong journey. The key to maintaining an exercise regimen is all about staying injury-free. If you’re not careful when exercising, you could hurt yourself. Here are some easy-to-remember steps to keep you free from injury when working out.

  1. Learn how your joints move. Joints move in different directions. Some only flex forwards and back, like knees and elbows. Others like wrists, shoulders and ankles freely articulate in a circular fashion. The less a joint moves, the stronger it is and the greater support it can give; if the joint moves freely, it’s typically weaker. This is important to know when lifting heavy weights or moving in different directions. Many times I cue clients to push or pull with joint-over-joint body positions (elbow under the wrist, for example).
  1. Adopt easy-to-follow movement patterns. This may sound like common sense, but I’ve seen plenty of beginners performing circus moves with no purpose. Start with the basics like squats, pushups, lunges and rows. They are all big muscle moves that are easy to do and burn major calories.
  1. Warm up properly. Whether you are doing a 5-K run that day or you are performing a weight-training circuit, remember to warm your muscles up before the activity. Cold muscles, joints and ligaments are more susceptible to injury, so it’s crucial to do either a dynamic or cardio-based warm-up of 3–10 minutes (depending upon the length of your workout).
  1. Go slow initially. If you are new to exercise, don’t sprint or lift weights quickly—take your time. Jog instead of run, and when it comes to weight training, complete every repetition with a 2-by-2 second movement (i.e., 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down), or even 4-by-4.
  1. Seek advice from a professional or someone with experience. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced enthusiast, anyone can benefit from a coach or mentor. Subtle changes can make a big difference to someone’s overall fitness performance and longevity. Don’t guess on what’s right or wrong—ask friends, co-workers or a professional personal trainer for assistance in remaining injury-free.