By American Council on Exercise
By Debi Pillarella
Are the winter blues wearing you down? Is that usual treadmill routine getting old? Good news—spring has arrived! It’s time to take advantage of the rising temperatures and longer days. Before you head outside to liven up your workout routine, review the following options for safe, effective and fun fitness this season:
S = Slow & Steady: Gradually re-establish your outdoor exercise routine. Vigorous activities such as tennis, jogging outdoors or even power walking should be re-introduced slowly because some muscles that aren’t as active in the winter months need time to adjust to the new climate and landscape. Doing too much too soon will only set you up for injuries, so take time to warm up, cool down and ease your body back into a program.
P = Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Spring is a great time to get involved with outdoor events such as road races and fun runs, or to begin long-term planning for marathons and triathlons. But without proper training and preparation, these could cause major injuries. Here are some tips for tackling a running event:
- Make sure you have the right shoes and outdoor clothing. Visit a local running shoe store and get fitted for a shoe that is a match for your foot and gait pattern. Wear layered clothing so you can make adjustments during your workout as your body temperature increases.
- Use a reliable and credible sourcefor training advice.
- Gradually build your running distance over a 10-week training period. Don’t increase your long runs by more than 10 percent over the previous week.
R = Routine: Set yourself up with an outdoor fitness routine, just as you would when working out indoors. A 30-minute power walk after dinner each night coupled with a weekend hike or bike ride on a local trail may work well with your schedule. However, don’t forget about keeping up your strength training! Local parks offer a variety of ways to stay strong. Try step ups on a park bench, pull-ups on playground monkey bars or lunges from tree to tree.
I = Information: Gather workout information on what’s available in your area from credible sources, and remember to check the forecast before heading outside. Fluctuating temperatures, wind, sun and seasonal allergies can all present challenges for the outside exerciser.
N= Nutrition: If you thought “spring cleaning” only refers to what you do to your home, think again! Spring is a great time to clean up your diet as well. Focus on healthy meal planning to get the energy you need to fuel your outdoor workouts. Add more water, fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet and pack nuts, seeds and other nutritious snacks for those long weekend workouts.
G = Get Outside and Have Fun! Following all this advice will help you get the most from your outdoor workouts this spring. With a bit of planning and preparation, this season can be the best yet. So what are you waiting for? Get up, get outside and have fun!
Debi Pillarella, M.Ed., is the Youth Fitness Spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise® (ACE®) as well as the Program Director at Fitness Pointe. She has authored numerous publications on youth and family fitness and writes a regular column, entitled “Fit Family”, for NWI Parenting Magazine. She lives in Munster, Indiana with her husband and two children.