Pro Tips / March 10, 2016

Spring Back Into Shape

You may have noticed that it is gorgeous out. What better time to get back into shape? Staying active physically is a great way to relieve stress, and can actually help you mentally. Use these tips to start getting more active again, and you might just do better this semester than you thought…

Get outside

Now that it’s finally nice out, (at least for today)  you have the option of moving your fitness routine outdoors — an excellent way to keep things interesting. Whether you start walking to work every day, take up running or join a coed baseball league with a few friends, find a way to get some fresh air as you get fit. Being outdoors can often feel much less constricting than a gym, meaning you’ll be more likely to feel better about whatever activity is on your workout schedule, be it playing tag with the kids, a game of touch football or having a yoga session on your deck.

Ramp up slowly

It is easy to want to pick up training where you left off last fall, but you must be very careful about ramping up the miles too quickly. Doing too much too fast greatly increases your chances of an injury. How bummed would you be if you were sidelined even longer, missing out on the great running weather? The general rule about increasing mileage is that you should increase by no more than 10% each week. For example, if you run 10 miles during your first week back, run no more than 11 miles the following week. If you are injury-prone or are currently recovering from an injury, you should stick to a 5% increase each week. This may be difficult to limit yourself, but it will help ensure that you stay injury-free.

We’ve all pushed our weekly mileage or pace beyond our limits and suffered an injury as the result. An injury can be doubly disastrous if you’re trying to lose weight. Not only are you not burning any calories while you’re injured, you’re probably feeling frustrated and depressed about it, which can lead to emotional eating and drinking.

It’s much better to run slower and shorter than to not run at all. Neither weight loss nor improvements in running performance will happen overnight.

Be patient and take the long view. By slowly building mileage and increasing speed, you’ll gradually be able to burn more calories each week while minimizing your risk for injury.

Set a goal

Whether you’ve been running for years or are brand new to running, setting goals can be very beneficial. Working toward a goal allows you to feel like you are accomplishing something and gives you a purpose for getting in those miles. Whatever your goal is, it should be challenging, yet achievable. If you are brand new to running, maybe your goal is to finish a 5K, or to be able to run for 20 minutes without stopping. Perhaps you want to get faster, stronger, or lose weight. Whatever your goal, set a realistic timeline to meet it and celebrate in a healthy way when you accomplish it. Treat yourself to some new running music, give yourself a pedicure, or buy yourself a new pair of running shorts.

Be prepared for the weather

Spring weather is very unpredictable, especially in Michgan. It might be 25 degrees  on Monday and 5 inches of snow, and 70 by Wednesday with a pleasant breeze.  Be prepared for any kind of weather. Make sure you have gear for cold mornings, such as long pants, gloves, or a wool cap, as well as clothes for warm weather, like shorts and a T-shirt. Also make sure you have a good water-resistant jacket on hand.

Enlist a workout buddy

Chances are you aren’t the only one with springtime weight loss and fitness goals. Take a poll of friends and family whom you could see yourself working out with, and find out who else wants to get active. Working out with a friend even once a week can go a long way toward keeping you on track. Decide on a weekly fitness class to attend together, meet up for a morning run, or go halves on a series of personal training sessions. Having a friend with similar goals to turn to for support can help keep you going when you start to lose motivation.

Running isn’t the only exercise that gets you outside in this spring. Try these,  too:


Walking. Not only is walking a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine after being cooped up all winter, it’s also great exercise if you do it right.  For an optimal workout, walk for an hour a day at least three days a week.  You should also alter your pace during the walk, i.e. go as fast as you can for a minute, then a slower pace for a minute, etc. This will get your heart pumping without having to do a hard workout.  The best part? You can do this anywhere, from a park to the mall.

Yoga.  Sure, nowadays yoga is done in your living room or in a gym, but this art was made to be done in the great outdoors.  So tote your yoga mat to the park or just to the backyard.  This can give you a workout and calm your nerves at the same time.

Volleyball.  This sport doesn’t have to be played inside with a ref; you can play at a sand volleyball court, or just set up a net in your back yard.  Volleyball is a great way to socialize with your friends, or to meet new people by joining a league.

Biking.  Ypsi and Ann Arbor are a bikers paradise with lanes already built for bikers.  Biking lanes are a great way to get a work out without risking serious injury by biking on rough terrain.  However, if you’re up for a challenge, there are probably paths through woods, hills, and parks. These may be harder to bike on, but can be very fun and the extra effort required burns more calories.  Just be sure to wear proper safety equipment no matter where you’re biking.




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