Frigid temperatures coupled with ongoing quarantine might mean your workouts have taken a backseat the last few months. Whatever the reason for your exercise lull, spring is an ideal time to get back to fitness.
But be careful – even ordinary exercises can take a toll if you’ve been glued to the couch all winter. To prevent severe muscle soreness or injury, follow a few simple steps to spring your body back into fitness safely.
Try these five strategies to shape up safely this spring.
With the majority of gyms still closed throughout Canada, nicer weather means more space for getting active! Warmer temperatures and longer days mean you can start switching up your activities and enjoy the outdoors at the same time. There’s no shortage of cardio activities you can get into outside – walking, running, biking, rollerblading, tennis, paddle boarding, kayaking. Take your pick!
If your body has remained relatively stationary all winter, chances are your body is probably a little bit stiff and easily fatigued. Gradually work your way up to your ideal exercise level by starting with an easy walking or jogging schedule or a consistent stretching regimen. The slow and gentle movements will prep your body for more intense activities, so your muscles won’t be as shocked when you really get started. If you start with 10 minutes every day or every other day, gradually increase by 5 or 10 minutes every week.
Starting out with a walk or stretch is ideal for warming up your muscles and preventing injury. You can also vary the intensity throughout your workout, alternating between an intense workout and a walk until you feel your workout is complete. A form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) can offer more gains than maintaining a steady pace throughout your workout.
No matter what your sport or activity, incorporating stretching before and after your exercise can help you stay at the top of your game and prevent muscle injuries and fatigue. Stretching will also keep your muscles flexible and allow them to perform their entire range of motion. Try to avoid static stretching at the start of your workout, since your muscles are still cold. Instead, incorporate dynamic stretching such as arm circles or jumping jacks into your routine to warm up your muscles up and run them through their full range of motion.
We’ve all heard about the benefits of protein when you’re working out. Post-exercise intake of protein has been shown to increase muscle recovery. Protein intake will depend on your weight and the duration and intensity of your workout. Longer and more intense exercises require more protein to optimize recovery. Over the course of one day, active individuals should aim to eat about 10–20% of their total daily energy intake from protein.
Have you overdone it?
We don’t blame you. The excitement of being able to go outside and really get back into an active lifestyle can make us throw caution to the wind.
If you have overdone it and strained or injured yourself, follow the RICE rule to lessen the muscle damage.
Here’s how RICE works:
Rest – This doesn’t mean you have to go back to being completely sedentary. Try active resting, which can include light walking or weight bearing to help your body recover more quickly.
Ice – Apply ice to the affected muscles to constrict blood vessels and reduce blood supply to the injury. This will minimize swelling. Ice for up to 20 minutes multiple times a day for a few days.
Compress – Wrap the affected area with an elastic bandage starting below the injury and wrapping a few inches above. Compression will reduce inflammation by preventing blood and other fluids from accumulating around the injury.
Elevate – Raise the affected area above your heart to decrease blood flow to the injury. It may be necessary to use a chair, bed, or pillows to prop up the affected area and achieve the right elevation.
Now that you know how to ease your body back into a fit lifestyle and how to manage your injuries if you overdo it, you’re ready to get out there and enjoy the season! If you’re looking for more tips on the right supplements or exercises for you, just stop by one of our locations and speak with one of our experts!