7 Ways To Spring Clean Your Workout


Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and you’re slowly beginning to shed layers of clothing. And while many people view the season as a time to declutter, host a garage sale or clean out closets and kitchens, it’s also a great time to hit the garden, pound the pavement and play outdoor sports.

“Not only does the season offer an opportunity to break from a boring gym routine, it also allows fitness enthusiasts to spend more time in the great outdoors,” says Rebecca Austin, an athletic trainer at Henry Ford System. So whether your preferred activity is hiking or biking, you can spring clean your fitness routine with these seven strategies:

  1. Drink more water. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and in extreme cases, death. “Get in the habit of drinking water throughout the day even before you start a new fitness routine,” says Austin. “That way, as the days get warmer and you start exercising harder, you’ll be less likely to get dehydrated.” The general rule of thumb is to sip about two liters of fluid a day and about 16 ounces two hours before exercise. Then drink up after a vigorous workout, particularly if you break a sweat. Find it difficult to drink enough water? Try an infused water blend to make it more appealing to your tastebuds.
  2. Get new gear. If you’ve been running in beat-up sneakers, there’s no better time to invest in a new pair. In addition to protecting yourself from injury, new shoes can amp up your workout. Playing court sports? Consider purchasing a new ball, new shoes and new workout wear, if it’s in your budget. Not only will the proper equipment help your performance but it may motivate you to get out there and be active.
  3. Find a buddy. You’re more likely to stick with a new exercise routine if someone is counting on you. Choose a workout buddy who shares similar goals, but who doesn’t live with you. “If it’s your spouse, it’s easy to roll over in the morning and decide not to workout,” says Austin. “But if you have to travel to meet up with someone, you’re more likely to keep that commitment.” (An online fitness community of people with similar interests and goals may also help you stay motivated if you don’t have a buddy to work out with in person.)
  4. Try something new. Trying a new sport or activity can be invigorating. There are plenty of free opportunities, including yoga in the park, introductory fitness classes and guest passes to workout studios. You can even join a team sport like soccer or basketball. Still not sure what to do? Consider hiring a personal trainer for one or two sessions to determine which types of workouts may be best for you.
  5. Wear sunscreen and repellant. If you’re heading outside to exercise, it’s important to protect yourself against the elements. While 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure may supply a healthy dose of vitamin D, more than that can increase your risk of sunburn and skin cancer. Slather waterproof sunscreen over all exposed areas and wear insect repellant to avoid getting bitten (mosquitoes are drawn to sweat).
  6. Be realistic. “As you start to get back into fitness, set realistic and attainable goals,” suggests Austin. “If you’ve never biked before, don’t sign up for a 100-mile race straight out of the gate.” Not only do you run the risk of not being able to achieve your goal, you may also succumb to an overuse injury from pushing yourself too hard. A better approach: Focus on setting small goals (say 30 minutes of activity three times per week) and build up from there.
  7. Take time for rest and recovery. Always listen to your body. It’s okay to be sore and feel some aches and pains, but if something feels sharp or out of the ordinary, it’s important to get it checked out.

Before starting a new exercise routine, it’s always a good idea to visit your doctor, says Austin. It’s important to know where you stand on things like blood pressure, cholesterol and vitamin deficiencies before overhauling your exercise program.

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Rebecca Austin, MA, AT, ATC, is a certified athletic trainer who works with the Henry Ford sports medicine and orthopedics physicians at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine in Detroit. She is the programming administrator for the joint preservation program, and also serves as the athletic trainer for the student athletes at the Academy of Sacred Heart High School.

Categories: MoveWell