Resolution Resilience

January 24, 2017 at 6:02 PM

Resolution Resilience Beyond February

It’s the start of another New Year which, for many people, includes a personal promise or intention to improve their health and fitness. Maybe you want to compete in an event, lose a few kilos, or perhaps just simply increase your activity. A few weeks of early morning alarms ringing and motivation beyond that seen any other time of the year, however, may equate to doing too much, too soon causing pain and injury for some.  This may be just a blip in the road before resuming activity at best, or at worst, completely derail all efforts ending with you feeling worse.

Top Tips

So, how can you protect and improve your health and fitness along a positive continuum while reducing the risk of pain or injury? Here are a few pointers to consider when starting your new exercise program:

  • Set some goals, have a plan and start slowly. 

Your program should match the goals you want to achieve. If you want to be more active but also want to better manage stress consider supplementing your exercise program with a mindfulness course. Want improved sports performance or injury prevention? Try Pilates- it’s a great way to improve your performance and prevent injury by strengthening your core. 

Remember to start slowly, if you have not engaged in much activity for a month or longer. Rather than signing up for Bootcamp or cross-fit straight away, just simply get moving instead. Consider low-intensity swimming, walking/jogging or cycling for 30-45minutes, 3X/week. Prime your body with movement before starting to load up with more intensity, more weight, or increased time or days of the week. As a general rule, you should only increase by 10% per week and should avoid changing more than one thing at a time (i.e. intensity or time). A nice way to calculate this 10% is by multiplying the duration of the activity by your rate of perceived exertion (0=no effort and 10=maximal effort). As a guide, try starting at a rate of perceived exertion= 6 or 7.

  • Don’t forget to warm up. Just 5 minutes of a gentle cardiovascular exercise, and moving the joints through the range required for your exercise is all that is needed.

  • Strengthen. Even if your goal is to participate in a tri, you can improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury by specifically strengthening the muscles required for those activities. Would a Pilates class, gym program, or home exercise program suit you best? Ask your physiotherapist for individualized advice.

  • Acknowledge your weaknesses. Old injuries or current aches and pains are the weak links predisposing you to further injury. Listen to your body! No pain, no gain is an outdated, harmful outlook. Instead, respect your pain, stop when it appears and get it sorted by a professional.

  • Remember to rest and recuperate! Always perform any specific type of exercise on non-consecutive days (i.e. weights on Monday and Wednesdays and running on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays) and make sure you get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation suggests at least 7 hours per night.

  • Avoid overtraining. Your muscles rely on glycogen energy stores and ATP to function properly. Overtraining can deplete these stores and can have other unwanted effects such as increased susceptibility to illness. 

  • Know the signs of overtraining: 

    • Decreased performance: if you are unable to perform as many repetitions, lift as much weight or struggle to cover the distance you ran last week, you may be overtraining.

    • Increased fatigue: if you are feeling more lethargic rather than energized or are needing more than 9 hours of sleep a night you are likely pushing yourself too hard.

  • Maintain a good diet. Losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise so if this is one of your goals, diet needs to be the focus. By all means, cut out any refined sugar, but understand that your body needs protein and carbohydrates for fuel. Severely restricting your intake on these items in efforts to lose weight, especially when increasing your activity, can have negative effects on your health. Speak to a dietician for more information and personalized advice.

  • Be realistic. If you haven’t run in awhile, sign up for a 5km or 10km race before that half marathon. If you want to lose weight, a goal of 0.5-1kg/ week is realistic and sustainable. 

  • Choose health over fitness. This involves listening to your body. Getting a bit of a sore throat? Cancel that alarm for more time in bed and over Bootcamp. Can’t walk down stairs without leg pain for a couple days after your work out at the gym? Reduce the weights lifted, time spent at the gym or both. 

  • Still not sure how best to proceed given your personal injury history, specific goals or other individual factors? Seek some professional advice. Expert assistance can help you achieve those goals faster while minimizing risk of injury at the same time. 

Good luck everyone! Let us know if we can help. Remember #movementbringsyouhappiness :)

Category: Health Collective