One of the most important elements of an exercise regimen, particularly for beginners, is taking steps to prevent physical injury. An injury from working out can not only put you in a great deal of pain but can also prevent you from exercising while it heals. Here are four of the best ways to avoid injuries while you’re exercising.

Warm Up and Stretch Adequately

Before exercising, you should stretch and warm up the muscles you’ll primarily be using during your workout. For runners, this means extensive hamstring and calf stretches. If you’re lifting weights, be sure to stretch the muscle your lifting workout will target. You should also begin your workout with light exercise to warm up before jumping into your full routine.

Build Your Core Strength

Many people who work out regularly do so with the goal of developing six-pack abs, but most don’t understand just how important a strong core is to prevent injuries. The muscles in your torso act to stabilize and support all of the other muscles in your body during various forms of exercise. This support, in turn, helps to prevent injuries from occurring. If you want to avoid injuries from regular exercise, building up your core strength is one of the best ways to go about it.

Don’t Overtrain

When starting a new exercise regimen, it can be very tempting to rapidly increase the intensity level or frequency of your workouts to challenge yourself and accelerate your results. This approach, however, is usually a mistake. Overtraining, or training too hard or too often, can result in injuries and decrease your overall athletic performance. Instead, build up slowly to more intense workouts, and be sure to give your body adequate time to rest in between exercise sessions.

Following these simple tips can reduce your risk of exercise-related injuries. If you do suffer an injury, be sure to consult a medical professional before returning to your workout routine. If you don’t give an injury enough time to heal, it can result in even worse injuries down the road.