Spring into Action
Spring is just around the corner. Hopefully that means no more snow, rising temperatures, and an increased opportunity to be more active outside.
Sure there are numerous winter sports to keep us active. There is skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, hockey, skating, and cross country skiing. Those are true winter sports.
Then there are year round sports, mainly done indoors with some exceptions such as running, biking, and swimming. Yet in reality, how many of us actually continue with these activities when the temperatures drop. It is de-motivating, cold, dark, and expensive to have the correct gear. Plus there are abundant opportunities to slip, take a spill and get injured. Who wants that?
Hopefully many of you have been able to exercise in your home, at the gym or a local fitness or sport facility. It is always better to keep conditioned year round than to try and jump-start a stalled training program.
Whether you are starting again or continuing on with your activities, now is the time to increase your outdoor activities. The fresh air will do you good and re-energize your winter lull.
A few tips and things to keep in mind.
1. Set some specific goals but still have fun!
From weight loss to increased muscle mass or just increase fitness and mobility and getting back into shape, setting a few concrete goals helps keep you motivated and on track. Start with easy short term, attainable goals, but keep it fun. Otherwise you risk quick burnout.
2. Re-examine your fitness gear.
Whether you took a break from exercise or not, make sure that your shoes still have some life in them, your clothes still fit, and you have all the appropriate apparel and gear. With a new season there are lots of color, style, and fabric options to motivate your exercise commitment.
3. Warm up.
The cool temperatures keep muscles and lungs constricted; so take about 5 minutes to get your body moving to increase blood flow and lung capacity to prevent injury.
4. Do not start with stretching.
Your muscles are too stiff and cold and stretching immediately can cause injury. Performance has been shown to decrease with stretching before physical activities.
5. Do not overdo it.
Ease into outdoor exercise and training. It has been awhile and your body and mind need some time to adjust. Start with short ventures and slowly increase each day or week. These small gains and improvements give you motivation and continuance during the spring and into summer.
6. Have fun.
Slight repeat of number one, but remember that if you are doing something you do not enjoy, you will not stick with it. Choose activities that are challenging but are still ones you find pleasure in, even though it may cause some immediate discomfort. As you progress you will both look and feel better.
Now get outside, be active, have fun and be good to your body!
Kyle Washburn is the National Health and Fitness Editor at Edge Publications, Inc. He earned a BS in Physiology, M.Ed in Sport Psychology and Counseling and an MBA. He is a certified personal trainer through NASM and ACE and has been training for over ten years. He is an avid triathlete, softball and tennis player, runner, hiker and enjoys the outdoors.