With spring weather comes the opportunity to be more active outdoors, like hiking, running and biking. Regular exercise can help increase your energy and improve your balance, health and mood. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Before you put on your athletic shoes and start a new routine, we’ve got some tips to help keep you safe and healthy.
While everyone can benefit from talking with their doctor before beginning a new fitness program, it’s important for pregnant women and people with a history of cardiac disease or other health issues to consult a physician beforehand, said Thomas Minton, PT, Cert. MDT, CRTS, a physical therapist with CarePartners Outpatient Therapy Clinic.
“New exercisers should start gradually, slowly adding exercise and increasing the effort level,” said Minton. “Do a little bit more each day, but not too much, and consider adding a variety of activities to more evenly distribute the new stresses on the body.”
Get Fitted to Get Fit
For new cyclists, the key to success is fit. “Make sure you purchase a bike that fits well,” said Minton, also a certified bike fit and running technique specialist. “After the initial sizing, consider a bike-fitting session with a trained specialist to ensure optimum adjustment. This involves a physical examination including flexibility and strength testing along with an interview of the individual’s goals and history of injury. The bike fitting session is performed on the individual’s current bicycle, and adjustments are made to optimize performance, prevent injury, and optimize comfort.”
New runners can also avoid injury by consulting a physical therapist trained in running gait evaluation and technique instruction. “New runners may consider learning proper technique with a coach or physical therapist specializing in teaching running technique,” said Minton. “It’s important to find someone who specializes in running injuries and is able to actually teach correct technique.”
Mix It Up
One of the best ways to build muscle or burn calories is to switch up your workout routine. “The body adjusts to repetitive movements over the long term, so alternate your fitness activities to see ongoing results,” said Minton.
Thomas Minton, PT, Cert. MDT, CRTS, is a physical therapist with CarePartners Outpatient Therapy Clinic.