2016 is here! Get back into a routine!

2016 is here! Ideas for health and fitness to avoid injury!

by Adam Weaver, PT, DPT

2015 is gone and 2016 has arrived is here to stay!  The holiday parties and family gatherings will quickly become a distant memory.  School is back in session, and most are back to normal work schedule.  This is also a time of year to reflect and set new goals for the upcoming year.  For patients and clients, this can often mean a renewed commitment to health, fitness and nutrition. For others, it is the start of something new.  For us, we are excited to try to bring a more regular presence to our blog from our staff and therapists with more original content!

Every year we will see an influx of patients that will tell our therapists this story...  " I hadn't exercised in years, and I began working out 7 days a week.  Oh and I stopped eating so I could lose weight.  And I should also tell you I work really long hours, have three kids, and I don't sleep very much.  And finally, I sit at a desk all day, and have a 1 hour commute.  Everything was going great until I hurt my back, shoulder and neck 1 week ago getting out of bed."  

Ok, perhaps this story is an exaggeration,  but we are all guilty of having unrealistic expectations in the pursuit of health and fitness.  Ultimately, this can lead to pain, injury and added stress.  

Don't let this happen to you!  A few tips from the field to help make 2016 your best year yet!

Set reasonable goals for workout time and frequency

Remember fitness and health is a marathon not a sprint.  How many times have you or someone you know set a huge goal to lose 50 or more pounds, or exercise for an hour six days a week, only to fall off the wagon a few weeks (or days) later?   Even when people have the best of intentions and the willpower to set out and do something grand, without a plan and a smart goal, they stumble—and are more likely to fail.  Set 3 attainable short term and long term goals. Keep time and frequency in mind when setting goals.  

Don't avoid a proper warmup

A little movement gets the brain, nervous system and muscular system primed and ready to exercise.  Use a foam roller.  Do some stretching: dynamic and static.  The focus here is to increase body temperature,  prime your mobility that exists, and prep the body for intended movements.   The warmup is not the time to work on your mobility (Improving this area is better off with a skilled bodyworker or health care provider).  f you are spending 30 minutes or more on your warmup, seeking care or an evaluation from your physical therapist might be a good idea.  

Just because it's hard, doesn't mean it's better.  

A workout leaving you rolling around on the floor gasping for air may feel productive, but doesn't mean it is.  Long hours spent on cardio equipment leave you in a sweat, bored, and paying for a gym membership that you don't use.   There is no magic number for time or intensity at the gym for the best way to health and fitness.  Current findings suggest weight training with some form of high intensity interval training Think full body exercises combined with interval training.   At the extreme ends of high intensity exercise, current research shows your exercise as a detriment to health and weight loss due to elevated levels of cortisol (think stress response).  

Don't discount the value of walking

There is endless literature to support the value of walking for exercise.  Use it to begin exercise, use it for stress relief, use it as a 'recovery day.'  If it's cold, bundle up or get on the treadmill.  This may not be the best way for weight loss, but certainly its other benefits are helpful!

If you are working out around pain, seek help! 

The old adage "no pain, no gain" is obsolete.  The perception of pain quickly will alter motor control and the way we move.  PT's can help you solve these issues that prevent you from exercising.   A well qualified personal trainer can help you stay clear of injury!  Check out a fitness or healthcare provider that can give you a Functional Movement Screen to establish a movement basement guideline.    

Small changes equal big changes with nutrition

Radical changes in diet often lead to poor compliance.  Rather then a complete overhaul of your diet, perhaps changing a few areas will be more effective.  Small changes like drinking more water,  adding more vegetables, eating less sugary foods, and eating more meals at home, often lead you to feeling better and having better results.