Week 13: The Proper Way to Exercise

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Sports medicine expert Ronda Wimmer, left, watches as Farai Chideya does a leg stretch i

Sports medicine expert Ronda Wimmer, left, watches as Farai Chideya does a leg stretch on a small foam plank on the floor, meant to stimulate balance and flexibility. Devin Robins, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Devin Robins, NPR
Sports medicine expert Ronda Wimmer, left, watches as Farai Chideya does a leg stretch

Sports medicine expert Ronda Wimmer, left, watches as Farai Chideya does a leg stretch on a small foam plank on the floor, meant to stimulate balance and flexibility.

Devin Robins, NPR
Farai Chideya stretches on an exercise ball.

Farai Chideya stretches on an exercise ball. Devin Robins, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Devin Robins, NPR
Ronda Wimmer does the same stretch on an office chair to prove exercise isn't limited to a gym.

Ronda Wimmer does the same stretch on an office chair to prove exercise isn't limited to a gym. Devin Robins, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Devin Robins, NPR

Some people looking to get into shape believe the old saying "no pain, no gain," and think you have to be completely exhausted and sore after exercising in order to benefit from the effort. But in reality, the way you exercise is as important as the exercise itself.

In the last three months, my new fitness regimen has played out like a soap opera — I've lost a few pounds and gained a few back. But one thing that's remained a constant are my aches and pains.

So I turned to an expert for some advice on how to exercise smart and prevent injuries. Ronda Wimmer is an integrated sports medicine specialist with expertise in many fields including physiology, Oriental medicine and physical rehabilitation.

Rule No. 1 for Wimmer is seemingly the most obvious: "One of the things we like to do is make sure exercise is fun — you don't want to do exercise you hate," she says.

Stretching and warming up are crucial, Wimmer says, and going to the gym isn't necessary. In fact, some of the motions we make every day, like reaching for objects, can be made into a beneficial exercise. Doing simple exercises while balancing on an inflatable exercise ball, for example, focuses the motion and strengthens the core muscles of your body.

Another key training habit is eating after exercise. "Good" carbohydrates such as pasta and simple starches are best; avoid sugary foods and sodas.

And the "no pain, no gain" idea? Not a good idea, Wimmer says. "If you are in so much pain and you're still working out, you're just going to create an injury."

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