When you make the effort to exercise, the last thing you want disheartening you is an injury.

Injuries occur for many reasons – some unpredictable, but some preventable!

We've got several tips to keep yourself on track — and off the sidelines — as youSpring into Fitness!

1. Know Your Limits

To prevent injury, you first and foremost need to know the limitations of your body.

Certain muscles and joints are naturally strong, while others are injury prone.

Each body has also experienced different strenuous circumstances. Perhaps you broke your ankle in the 10th grade, and it just hasn't been the same since. Or, maybe you had a gymnastics wrist injury and barbell curls now terrify you.

Whatever your limitations are, do not ignore them! Work with your strengths and your weaknesses to find activities best suited for you.

2. Be Age Appropriate

For some reason, starting to exercise again seems to bring about Peter Pan syndrome for many.

Unfortunately for most, your twenties and possibly thirties have come and gone and those years have taken with them your youthful ability to jump on the treadmill and run 5 miles or bench press 190 pounds at the drop of a hat.

Doing too much too soon is the perfect recipe for an exercise injury.

Specific muscle groups and joints such as the shoulders, back, and knees need better care with age. Start slowly and progress steadily for best results.

3. Cross Train

Cross training basically means switching it up. It is technically defined as an exercise regimen that uses different types of training to incorporate multiple body muscle groups.

Doing the same exercise every day puts too much stress on certain muscles and joints.

When you repeat the same muscle movements, you can develop overuse injuries, such as shin splintstendinitis and persistent muscle soreness.

Distance runners are often encouraged to cross train by incorporating low-impact activities into their routine. Some popular low-impact exercises include elliptical training, cycling, and swimming.

These exercises give runners' overworked knees and hips a well-deserved break.

4. Quench your Thirst

Dehydration can not only decrease athletic performance, but it can also lead to a greater risk of heat injury such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke.

Be sure to drink water before, during, and after exercise. A good rule of thumb to follow is drinking at least half your weight in ounces of water daily.

For example, if you are 180 pounds, drink 90 ounces throughout the course of the day!

5. Warm up, Progress Slow

It’s no secret that, no matter the exercise, you are less likely to become injured if you warm up your muscles before working them out.

Make sure your warm-up is specific for the exercise you will be partaking in. For example, it doesn't make much sense to go on a short jog before doing chest presses.

If you are running a marathon, by all means go on a jog! But if you are weight training, start with a lighter weight and do 8-12 reps to get muscles warm and ready before loading on additional weight to build strength.

Also, be careful to not make large jumps in the amount of weight you are lifting. An easy rule to stick to is to increase large weights about 5% at a time. For example, if you can lift 100 pounds for 8-12 reps, the next session try 105 pounds.

6. Listen to Your Body

A good way to make a small joint or muscle discomfort a huge problem is to ignore it.

Muscles need rest. It’s simple — If you don't give your body a chance to recover, you will most likely be in the trainer’s office with a completely preventable injury.

If you are not feeling pain, working out everyday may be okay for you! Just keep in mind…tired muscles are more likely to become injured muscles.

7. Align yourself with a Trainer

A great way to ensure you are choosing appropriate exercises, and doing them correctly, is to book a session or two with a personal trainer.

From extreme weightlifting to gentle Yoga, proper alignment is essential for injury prevention. A trainer’s helpful tips for alignment and workout progression can easily prevent unnecessary injury.

Now that you have some great guidelines for injury prevention, safely spring into fitness this May!

This post originally appeared on Improving Health blog