In the Spotlight
Five Tips to Get Fit This Spring
Hibernation is over - time to get active
Spring is in the air, even in those parts of the country that have seen freezing winter storms. With warmer weather comes a desire to get outside, get active, and shed some of the winter weight packed on during those colder months. Some look at the spring as a chance to make good on New Year's Resolutions while others look at it as the best time to get fit in cool weather.
Did you know that exercising regularly affects more than just physical fitness? You might be surprised to discover that exercise makes you more likely to:
Sleep well at night
Be in a good mood
Control your weight
My HealtheVet has five tips to help you put your best foot forward when you're keeping fit in the heat.
1. Warm-up and cool-down
Always include a warm-up and cool-down as a part of your exercise routine. A tough workout can lead to muscle strain and injury if your body does not ease in and out of physical activity. Include stretching after your cool-down routine to increase flexibility. Muscles will still be warm and more flexible, which will allow you to move through a fuller range of motion.
Check out these sample stretches (PDF).
2. Wear proper footwear
You might think that your flip-flops are the most comfortable shoes you own, but they are not appropriate for working out. For exercising, be sure to have properly fitted athletic shoes with good arch support. The right shoes will prevent too much stress on your feet and knees and will help you from stumbling on obstacles in your path. Just remember to tie your shoelaces.
Check out this handy guide (PDF) to pick the right pair.
3. Don't overdo it
For many Veterans, starting a brisk walking program may be more appropriate than running at full speed. Begin by taking it easy on your joints and work your way towards finding the point at which you are challenged. Remember: you're not a new recruit doing physical training in basic training anymore. Get into your workout program step by step to avoid injury and burnout. And keep in mind, if you're training outdoors, you always need to run back home. So be careful to pace yourself and don't go too far in one direction.
Check out How Hard Should I Exercise (YouTube) to know how much is too much.
4. Track progress
Setting concrete goals and tracking your progress in achieving those goals can be a great motivator. Keep the goals realistic. For example, do not start your running program by running a marathon. As you keep track of your exercise, you will notice your exercise patterns. With those records, you'll recognize how much progress you're making, or if your success is dropping off.
If you don't already have a My HealtheVet account, register today. Then you can use the My HealtheVet Activity Journal to keep track of how much you are exercising.
5. Drink enough liquids
Working out in the heat and humidity can put you at risk for dehydration, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses. The easiest way to avoid heat disorders is to keep your body hydrated. This means drinking liquids before, during and after your exercise.
Don't drink the kind of soda or fruit juices that will only make you more dehydrated. Choose water or a low-calorie sports drink. Insufficient liquids will not just leave you feeling uncomfortable, but dehydration can lead to fainting or muscle cramps.
Healthy Living Center: Physical Activity
Activity Journal (Login required)
MOVE! (VA Weight Management Program)
Updated March 26, 2019