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How to Do Aerobics Safely

One key to exercising safely is the warm-up phase. For six to ten minutes, do a low-intensity version of the activity, to loosen up muscles and make you less prone to injury. A good technique also protects you. Activity by activity, here are some of the most common aerobic pitfalls and how to avoid them.

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Even exercises like running can result in serious injuries. Protect yourself with stretching and proper technique.

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Cycling

When cycling, pay special attention to your seat height. Position the seat so that when you extend one leg fully on the down pedal, with your foot flat, that knee is slightly bent. If the seat is too low, you will stress your knees. If it is too high, you will put undue force on your lower back. But when the seat is properly positioned, you will work the intended muscles – the quads (on the fronts of the thighs) and the gluteals (in the buttocks).

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Walking

When you walk, jog or run, strike the ground with your heel first, then with the ball of your foot, and finally push off from your toes. This heel-ball-toe pattern helps to prevent shin splints and shin pain. For activities that involve jumping, such as rope jumping or step aerobics, the pattern is reversed: toe-ball-heel. Sport-specific footwear is designed to absorb impact at those parts of the foot that strike the ground most directly. For example, aerobic dance shoes are most padded at the ball of the foot, while running shoes have more cushioning at the heel.

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Using a Rowing Machine

If you are exercising on a rowing machine, maintain proper posture by always keeping your shoulders aligned directly over your hips. Avoid the common mistake of sliding your seat backward before you move your arms. Instead, slide back and pull at the same time. If you don’t follow this technique you risk straining your lower back. To protect your joints, try never to lock your knees or elbows.

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Using a Stairclimber Exercise Machine

If you are using a stairclimber, avoid overstressing your knees by keeping your extended leg slightly bent and both knees aligned behind your toes; if necessary, lean back a bit. Also, avoid the common mistake of resting your forearms along the handrails for support. People have developed elbow tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome from overextending their elbows and wrists while on a stairclimber.

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Swimming

Take a few swimming lessons if you have not done so recently. New techniques help to prevent shoulder problems and allow you to swim more efficiently. The S-patterned stroke gives you more thrust because your arms push against still water, not their own choppy wake. As shown below, keep your head down except to breathe; turn it just until your mouth is out of the water. Keep your shoulders higher than your legs, and kick from your hips, not your knees. Try not to arch your back.