Finally, it’s time to shed those heavy winter clothes and those unwanted pounds. It’s time to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather; but is your body ready? Unless you’re one of the few who has maintained an exercise regimen over the winter months, your body is emerging from its winter hibernation a lot less flexible, less strong and sadly out of shape. So, before you tackle a tough tennis game, go running along the beach, or get out your golf clubs, consider some spring training to put you back into shape.
Start Out Slow
All too often, we let our enthusiasm to get out and active put too much sudden stress on our bodies. You have to ease back into the swing of things gradually – otherwise, you’re likely to end up with an injury that can set you back weeks!
Start by putting together a training plan and take the time to actually schedule your workouts – make room for routine exercise in your weekly planner. And, be sure to spread your exercise sessions out over the entire week. Don’t be a weekend warrior and allow yourself time for rest and recovery between workouts.
Depending on your level of fitness over the winter, starting slow may mean walking just ten minutes a day for the first week and then 15 minutes the next, gradually building up to a 30 or 40 minute walk and longer distances. Set yourself realistic short-term and long-term goals that are attainable.
If you have knee or back problems and are looking for a low-impact workout, consider doing laps not miles or do your jogging in the pool instead of pounding of the pavement. The water resistance will build muscle strength, endurance and muscle tone.
Remember to include some sort of strength training in your workout regimen – it helps build muscle, increases metabolism and strengthens bones – but, don’t get carried away at first. Do 10-15 reps using a weight you can easily handle and then slowly increase the amount of weight lifted.
You’ll also want to add cardio exercise to your workouts. Running, fast-paced walking, biking and step aerobics are all good choices. Start out with 2-3 times a week for 20-30 minutes and slowly increase to 4-5 days with 30-45 minute sessions. Gradually step up the frequency, intensity and duration of aerobic exercises.
Stretch It Out
Stretching before exercise is even more important now, after a long winter of inactivity. Your muscles have gotten tight and your body is much less flexible than it was at summer’s end. So, gentle stretching is mandatory before every workout – it prepares and warms the muscles so that they are ready to do their job. Proper warm-up and cool-down activities help to lessen the chance of injury.
Build flexibility and work on core strength by working your abdominal and back muscles, and you’ll be helping your body get ready for the season ahead. Golfers should pay special attention to stretching and strengthening their lower back, trunk and arms, while tennis players should stretch and strengthen their shoulders and arms.
Put together a routine that you enjoy. If you look forward to your workouts, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to achieve your goal. Attitude is everything! By the way, if you find more motivation using the buddy system, then pair up with a partner who is close to your pace and get out there and get the most out of your workouts – exercise and fun!
Your spring training workouts should incorporate:
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Strength training
Make sure you put together a variety of activities. If you keep your routine fresh, you’re more likely to stick to it and less likely to fall victim to workout avoidance.
Now that spring is here, be sure to take advantage of all the delicious fresh fruits and vegetables that are available. Add fresh strawberries, leafy greens and succulent melons to your daily diet and lighten up on the heavy carbs and dense meats. If you do, you’ll be feeling lighter and more energized, and be well on your way to a healthier, happier, more active summer.
Catch Spring Fever!
We all have a more positive attitude and feel more enthusiastic once spring arrives. So, why not channel that renewed energy into exercise and eating right. Put away the TV remote, get out of the living room, step outside and get back to really living. Slip into some brand new lightweight gear, toss away those drab winter sweats and choose colors that will make you feel good. Soon, you’ll be ready for summer action.
See you outdoors!
Remember, stay hydrated, wear proper athletic footwear and consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.