Outdoor Exercise – Starting Slow and Getting Ready

If you are like most of us in the Midwest, you are ready for spring to arrive!  Spring is the season where we end our months-long hibernation, see our neighbors again, and finally start the exercise program we have been thinking about all winter long.  We know the numerous physical and mental benefits of regular exercise, and even simple activities like walking for 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week can make a big difference.  But what about those aches and pains after the first week?  How much is too much?

Here are three tips for getting back in shape this spring and avoiding injuries:

Start slow and increase in moderation

Most experts recommend allowing a full day of rest between exercise sessions meaning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday would be a good place to start.  Each week your overall activity should only increase by 10-20%.  For example, if you start walking 20 minutes three days per week your total exercise for the week is 60 minutes.  You’ll want to increase that by no more than 20% meaning you should aim for about 24 minute walks next week.

Check out those shoes

If you’re hitting the road for running or walking in the same shoes you’ve been wearing since Obama was president, you might want to think twice about your plan. Most running shoes begin to break down around 300 to 500 miles of wear.  Many people think running 3 miles a few times per week doesn’t make them a serious runner.  But that’s about 10 miles a week meaning they should plan on new shoes about every 12 months. Old shoes can lead to stress fractures, increase wear and tear on joints.

Pay attention to the small muscles

Most of us are guilty of thinking we can pick up and do what we did ten years ago.  Well, if we do, we might pay the price.  What used to be an easy walk or jog, now taxes muscles that adjusted to the comfy couch this winter and got another year older.  Smaller muscles, such as the gluteus medius, play a key role in absorbing shock and projecting your knees.  These are smaller muscles where it is more important to complete a higher number of repetitions rather than see how much weight we can lift. Make sure you work the smaller muscle groups as frequently as you work the larger muscle groups.

By: Nicholas Grimoskas, DPT

Rock Valley Therapy at Adair County Health System

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