If one of your 2022 resolutions is to get in better shape, good for you.
And if, like countless other folks, you plan to incorporate home workouts into your fitness plan, even better.
After all, assuming you’re disciplined enough to stay with them — and we know you are! — home workouts are usually more convenient than other options.
If you were hoping for home-exercise equipment under your tree this year, you’re not alone.
According to the research market company NPD Group, during a six-month span in 2020, home-exercise equipment revenue more than doubled to some $2.3 billion.
As the Washington Post reported earlier this year “sales of treadmills soared 135 percent while those of stationary bikes nearly tripled, depleting inventories. The trend has stretched through seasonal changes … [and] demand for equipment that can be used close to home or outdoors is off the charts.”
Despite gyms once again being open, many people’s exercise habits have been forever changed by the pandemic. As Men’s Health noted last month “it’s safe to say that the pandemic-induced great home gym renaissance is here to stay.”
However, with this increased home exercise has come a corresponding increase in home-exercise injuries — especially in seniors.
According to data compiled by MedicareAdvantage.com from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, from 2019 to 2020, there was a 48% increase in home-exercise injuries that resulted in trips to an emergency room.
And as MedicareAdvantage.com noted “seniors suffered serious at-home workout injuries at a rate much higher than adults of other age groups.”
Some 28% of the at-home workout injuries recorded — more than 10,500 people — were in folks 65 and older.
Treadmills and stationary bicycles were the most-often cited sources of injuries — accounting for some 37% of them — but even simple calisthenics such as pushups and stretching also made the list.
Among the surmised reasons why seniors appeared to be at higher risk than other age groups were “diminished flexibility, loss of muscle mass and worsening balance.”
As personal trainer Brett Durney, co-founder of Fitness Lab, told Medicare Advantage.com “over the past 18 months, I have experienced clients complaining of various different injuries [and] much of this is due to a lower level of general activity across the day and muscles tightening from being in a seated position. What can also contribute to this is that many people have taken on home workouts that involve new movements.”
Likewise, Austin Brock, a personal trainer and co-founder of Slash Fitness in Delray Beach isn’t surprised by the rise in at-home exercise injuries.
“The number of times I have to correct form to ensure our members don’t get injured is countless,” he says. “This tells me that if I wasn’t there to remind the client to warm up, to do the lift correctly, or even to slow down, the number of possible injuries would be through the roof.”
In order to avoid becoming one of those at-home injury statistics, Brock has a few suggestions. And of course, before starting on any exercise plan, first consult with your own physician.
‘Walk before you run’
When people decide to get in shape and they are at home, they often do too much too soon. You might want to quickly burn off the extra calories you’ve been consuming over the holiday season but it’s better to approach a new fitness regimen gradually.
“Begin by walking a little farther and a little faster each day until you’re ready to break into a jogging pace,” recommends Brock. “Or start lifting lighter weights with higher reps and then ease into the heavier weights slowly and methodically.”
When you are working with a trainer or at a gym, the instructor is trained to notice the obvious (and not so obvious) signs of overtraining. When you are home working out alone, you might miss them. For instance, you might be experiencing “off-peak performance” — meaning you are peaking at the wrong time, or you’re getting burnt out and not feeling fresh and motivated. Or even worse, you’re feeling pain.
“It’s critical that you allow yourself to rest, and take the time your body needs to recover completely,” says Brock. “If have devised your own workout plan, add in mandatory rest days or even check-ins with a professional trainer to gauge how your fitness program is progressing.”
Seek outside guidance
Even if you are working out at home, there are still resources available. Call your local gym and ask the certified fitness trainer to construct a workout plan you can follow on your own. Or consider signing up for an online program that will keep you on track and ensure that you are not doing too much at once.
Working out at home doesn’t have to mean you are totally on your own. With the advent of virtual trainers, you can work out at home but still get the benefits of an expert’s guidance.
Read the fine print
Sure, it’s tempting to jump right in to using your new piece of home-exercise equipment — but be sure to read the instructions carefully before you start training with new devices.
“Throwing yourself into a new workout routine or trying out a new machine or even committing to a large goal is exciting; but the risk of injury can be high,” noted Brock. “It’s critical to read, ask questions and approach anything new slowly and patiently.”