New year, new you, right?
Many are heading to the gym or the trails in a quest to reclaim their pre-pandemic physique.
But take heed before you hop back into your usual exercise routine, after spending months on the couch.
Waite and her colleagues at the UC Davis Sports Medicine Clinic have seen an increase in workout-related injuries as more people resume their normal exercise routines after months of sedentary, pandemic living. As people try to get back into shape, they come to the clinic with shoulder, knee and Achilles tendon injuries, as well as back strains.
Waite offers the following seven tips on how to get back in shape, without hurting yourself:
- If you are still moderately fit, but have been inactive for three months or have gained 10 pounds or less, start back at 50% of your prior activity level. Aim for every other day or three times a week to start.
- If you have been inactive for longer than six months or gained more than 10 pounds, start back at 25% of your prior activity level. You can still aim for every other day or three times a week to start.
- If you feel OK after the first week of activity, increase either your intensity or duration by about 10% each week. Do not increase it by more than 20% to avoid injury.
- Making more than one change at a time poses a higher risk of injury (distance, duration, intensity, terrain, change of footwear).
- If you feel moderate or significant pain (more intense than simple discomfort) in your body, stop and rest. Don’t push yourself.
- Keep in mind that body weight is not the ultimate measure of health. You can be heavier than your ‘ideal’ body weight and still be healthy if you are getting the recommended amount of physical activity and eating a healthy diet.
- Remember that it's nearly impossible for adults to completely exercise away a poor diet. Attention to nutrition is also key to improving fitness and health.
People are at an increased risk for injury if they go back to the level of activity they were doing before the pandemic.”
According to Waite, the goal for maintaining health and preventing disease is 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (for example, brisk walking) five days per week. That is a total of 150 minutes per week total and can be broken down into mini workouts of 10 minutes a few times a day if needed. Moderate intensity workouts are less likely to cause injury when you’re starting back to a fitness routine.
“Vigorous yard work, dancing while house cleaning, playing a physically active game with your kids, walking a couple laps around the perimeter of a parking lot while on a shopping excursion are ways to get in minutes without needing to go to the gym or taking a lot of time out of a busy day,” Waite said.