Guest Post By Rachel Mark, Exercise Therapist & Yoga Instructor for InspireHealth
With summer finally approaching it’s time to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer! However, after our long winter “hibernation” it’s important to ease back into an active exercise routine mindfully rather than jumping in full speed. Starting too fast may lead to injury, soreness and fatigue and keep us away from the activities we love. Leading into summer, gradually build your routine to ensure you are at your peak performance for the prime weather.
Here are a few tips for shaking off those cobwebs and safely preparing for summer activities:
Engage in whole body activities that get your joints and muscles moving. Examples include; swimming, jogging, hiking, and rowing.
Ensure you are at an intensity that allows you to carry on a conversation. After a few weeks, you can slowly begin to increase the intensity.
When beginning a new type of activity, start conservatively. It takes time for your body to become accustomed to the new movements.
Try to incorporate elements of cardiorespiratory training, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and balance.
Baby steps are the best way. Start small and progressively add more as you become stronger and fitter.
Remember to do a good warm-up, and always stretch afterward! A proper warm-up includes gentle full-body movements which increase heart rate and get your muscles and joints moving.
Try adding these strengthening exercises to your regime starting with 10 to 15 repetitions of each:
SQUAT AND REACH
For whole body strength
With your feet shoulder width apart, hold an object (ball or weight) with your arms straight out in front. Squat down, maintaining a neutral spine, and sit back with your hips allowing your knees to track over, but not beyond, your toes. Stand up by pushing through your heels while raising the object overhead.
SINGLE LEG HIP HINGE
For gluteals, legs, and core
While on one leg, hinge at the hip by leaning your body forward and extend your other leg straight behind you. Lean forward until your torso and leg are parallel with the ground. Keep both legs straight and ensure a neutral spine. Return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.
For core stability
Kneel on all fours, raise one arm in front of your body and extend the opposite leg behind you. Pause, and then slowly return to starting position. Ensure your torso remains stable and does not tilt. As you extend your arm and leg, think about engaging your core, shoulder, and gluteal muscles.
Here are a few stretches to finish your workout with:
SIT AND REACH
Sit on the floor with your knees straight and feet stretched out in front of you. Lean forward with your torso while trying to keep the knees straight. Let your arms rest on legs.
This opens up the back side of your body from your heels into your back.
HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
Lunge forward with your right leg and shift your left hip forward. Lift your left arm up and lean to the right. You may use a wall or place your back knee on the ground for balance.
This counteracts our regular daily sitting routine which tends to tighten our hips.
Roll a towel or place a bolster lengthwise along the spine and lie back on it with the arms out to the sides, and palms facing the ceiling. Relax the legs.
This counteracts our shoulders rolling forward as caused by many daily activities.