Spring is in the air, and all across the nation the big spring clean — in with the new and out with the old — is on. So how might this ubiquitous wish to clean and improve translate to your health and fitness?
Jenny DeMarco, a D.C.-area personal trainer (itrain4life.com), suggests doing an inventory of what works and what doesn’t in your health and fitness routine (or lack thereof). “It’s good to check in every few months and just ask some inventory questions,” DeMarco said.
Among suggested questions:
• Where am I now?
• How far do I have to go?
• What is helping/hindering my reaching that goal?
If you’re having a difficult time sorting through what needs to stay and what needs to go in your routine, it could be a good time to hire a trainer to help you identify tools and goals as well as figure out whether your goals are attainable, he suggested.
“Especially if you feel like you’ve plateaued, a trainer can help you figure out what is going on,” DeMarco said.
This might mean increasing intensity, frequency or duration, or it might mean adding a new component. For instance, if there was no flexibility and core ingredient in your routine, then maybe add yoga. We often get stuck with what we like — not what we need.
“We get into a comfort zone, and we tend to stay there,” DeMarco said.
It’s also about staying injury-free. Injuries often start to pop up after six to eight weeks of a one-sided or repetitive-motion activity (such as running), said Robert Gillanders, a physical therapist with Point Performance Therapy in Bethesda, Md.
He emphasizes a well-rounded fitness routine, especially for people who are 40 and older.
“Tendon structures, for example, get very fragile as we get older,” said Gillanders, who treats plenty of ankle, Achilles and knee injuries, often as a result of repetitive-motion exercise. “We need to be more intentional about what we are doing. We need a broad routine, and we need to think long-term.”
The answer is not always to do more. The soft tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) need time to recover after exercise, Gillanders said. “Sometimes the best thing for the body is to work out less,” he said.
Make sleeping part of your fitness regimen, said Rebecca Scritchfield, a wellness coach and nutritionist in the Washington area. If you are short on sleep (seven to eight hours a night is recommended), it might be better to sleep in instead of going to the gym.
“Part of self-care is to listen to your body,” Scritchfield said.