Spring symbolizes fresh beginnings. As nature around us comes to life, we too are inspired to start “anew.”
If you are one of about 30 percent of Americans who, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are not physically active, what better time than spring to turn over a new leaf – both literally and figuratively!
“Of course, regular and continuous exercise – regardless of weather or seasons – is best, but for those who have been inactive, now is a great opportunity to start or re-start a fitness routine,” says Phil Nicolaou, owner of Chester County Adventure Boot Camp.
If you are planning to wise up and get active, you are not alone. A just-released Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey found that more Americans exercise in the spring and summer than in fall or winter.
“If you made a New Year resolution to exercise but fell off the wagon, now you have another chance,” Nicolaou notes. “The year is still young, so if you start now and keep at it, you’ll reap terrific benefits in terms of health and fitness.”
However, if you’ve been in hibernation lately – or never exercised at all – you need to build up your fitness level slowly and take certain precautions to make sure your workout is safe and effective. Nicolaou’s suggestions:
- Check with your doctor first: This is especially important if you have existing medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or are obese. Exercise will most likely benefit you and improve your overall health, but make sure your physician approves of your exercise program first.
- Pace yourself: If you are out of shape, ease your body into an exercise routine slowly and gently. Warm-up and stretch your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes beforehand to avoid discomfort and injury. Keep in mind that while some muscle soreness is expected (and beneficial), painful joints tell you that you are putting too much strain on your body.
- The build up: As you become more fit, increase the duration and intensity of your workout. If you are not sure what exercises you should be doing, join a boot camp. Not only will you get a terrific total-body workout in an enjoyable environment, but an instructor will make sure you exercise safely and correctly.
Nicolaou says all these are important points, but there even more precautions novice (and even seasoned) exercisers should take:
- Wear comfortable clothes made from an expandable fabric such as spandex, as well as well-fitting athletic shoes.
- Hydrate: A bottle of water should be your constant companion – whether you exercise outdoors or in.
- For an outdoor session, wear a high-SPF sunscreen (even on cloudy days), and spray an insect repellant on your clothes. If you have seasonal allergies, take an antihistamine and wear well-fitting sunglasses to keep your eyes protected from allergens.
Need a comprehensive flexibility program designed for you? Contact Philadelphia Certified Personal Trainer, Phil Nicolaou