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The Top 20 Fitness Mistakes Beginners Make

Don't let exercise errors stand in your way
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Routine Maintenance

12. Forgetting about fun. "If you're bored with your routine, and your treadmill has faced the washer since 1980, how much fun is that?" says Isphording, "I'd never want to do your workout, either. ? And why do we call it a workout? It should be a playout."

Exercise with your friends or family, just as you go to movies or dinner with people. "Unless we reframe it in our minds, it will never be fun," Isphording says.

13. Doing outdated exercises. Still doing the exercises you learned in high school, like windmills and leg lifts? Some of these oldies are a waste of time; others can cause injury. Take an exercise class or work with a personal trainer to freshen your routine.

14. Getting stuck in a rut. What's wrong with doing the same exercise routine, day in and day out? "You're working the same muscles, going at the same speed, and once you get in shape you no longer breathe heavily," says Isphording. "The muscles become very efficient. They expend less energy, and you burn fewer calories."

Find different types of exercise that you enjoy, and make it a point to vary what you do.

15. Seeking a quick fix. Many people expect dramatic results from a little exercise. "Current recommendations are for 3 1/2 to four hours of physical activity a week just to prevent weight regain," says Kasper, who is a professor in the department of kinesiology at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga. "If you want to lose weight and you're walking 30 minutes, three times a week, without changing your diet, it will take roughly one month to lose a pound."

Want to lose faster? Exercise more.

16. Being a weekend warrior. "If you're only exercising two days a week, you'll never get where you want to be, and you'll feel awful every Monday," says Isphording. "It leads to injury and burnout, and you're missing the secret to success: showing up."

17. Taking on too much at first. "Whether on a treadmill at home or working out at an exercise facility, people tend to do too much too soon," says Kasper. "They put themselves at risk for an orthopaedic injury."

He advises working with a qualified trainer who will do a screening, teach proper techniques, and set up an appropriate fitness program.

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