How to Spring Back into Health the Smart Way

Want to get back in shape this spring? Slow is the way to go.

Anxious to begin running outside, hitting the golf course and beautifying your yard again? Not so fast.

According to Christopher Miles, MD, assistant professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and one of the team physicians for Wake Forest University athletes, if you didn’t participate in an activity over the winter, it is vital not to try to pick up where you left off in the fall.

“The main thing to keep in mind when resuming any activity is the importance of a slow progression,” said Miles.

Before you jump in full speed, Miles offers the following tips on how to slowly get back in shape:

Stretching Goes a Long Way

Stretching before and especially after you exercise can improve flexibility and decrease risk of injury. Hold stretches for 15-30 seconds, and be careful not to stretch too intensely before your muscles are warm and ready.

Incorporate Your Core

Almost everything we do physically depends on a strong core. Toned core muscles make movement easier and protect your spine. Keep in mind that your core consists of much more than just your abs: lower back, glutes and obliques count too.

Consistency is Key

To build endurance and strength, start out by exercising for short periods of time (at least 10 minutes), several days a week. As your workouts become less challenging, gradually increase the duration, intensity and frequency.

Give your Body Time to Acclimate

Let your body ease into spring. A major part of this is appropriate hydration – at least eight cups of water a day. Also consider building in time for a warm up and cool down.

Mother Nature Has Her Own Plans

Before you head outdoors, check the forecast. Storms, especially lightning, can be dangerous.

“Be patient with your body,” said Miles. “Getting back in shape takes time, but if done right, you can help prevent excessive soreness and injury. That way you can spend all season long doing all activities you love.”