ST. LOUIS — After the coldest winter in over a decade, the signs of spring are showing all over. Daffodils are sprouting in gardens, trees are budding, and thousands will be taking their exercise regimens outdoors for the first time in many months.
“When the weather warms and the sun is shining, people may want to go out and run three miles,” says Darcy Downey, assistant professor in athletic training education at Saint Louis University.
“But if you haven’t conditioned your body over the winter, an overuse injury could sidetrack your new routine for the foreseeable future.”
Downey offers the following tips to get the most from your spring exercise tune-up:
Be aware of the winter weight.
Many of us put on extra weight over the winter. Of course, this puts more stress and strain on bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Don’t expect to pick up where you left off six months ago. Starting gradually is the best course of action.
Vary your workout.
Mix a light jog and brisk walk one day, with some core and abdominal work the next. This helps the body steadily adjust and builds a good base as you increase your activity level.
Break your routine into parts.
A long warm up is essential to protect against soreness. Stretching should always be done after the warm-up. After you’ve completed your main set a cool down is also crucial in preparing for the next day’s activities.
“Soreness is a natural response to unfamiliar body activity,” Downey said. “Begin gradually, change up your routine to keep it fresh and remember a good cool-down.”
It is always important to continue hydrating before, during and after all workouts.
Protect yourself from the sun.
Overexposure to the sun can cause headaches, nausea, fever and fatigue in addition to sunburn. Wear sunscreen and breathable clothing to protect yourself.
“The best advice I can give is just to work into your new workout routine gradually,” says Downey.