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Five simple steps to put the spring back in your step

Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013 12:01 p.m. CST

Trees budding, flowers blooming and warmer temperatures all are signs that spring has arrived. We are all eager to get outdoors and get more activity in. After a long winter slumber, these five steps may help you get on your feet again the safe and healthy way.

Eat

Starving yourself should never be a part of your program. Eating right should! Fuel your body with whole wheat breads, pastas or brown rice two hours before your workout. Whole grains can give you longer lasting energy to get you through your regimen. Foods to avoid include anything high in sugar such as jams and jellies, cookies, cakes, pies and doughnuts. These foods tend to give you a quick burst of energy, but then your blood sugar may bottom out later.

Healthier substitutes include whole grain breads, cereals and crackers, low-fat and fat-free yogurt and fruit smoothies, peanut butter on a bagel thin and chocolate milk. Foods that may help reduce inflammation such as salmon, tuna and nuts are good choices, also.

Drink

Being hydrated throughout the day as well as before your workout is crucial for helping to prevent muscle tears and feeling better during the workout itself. Water is great if the workout is under 60 minutes, but a sports or energy drink is recommended for workouts more than an hour.

Stretch

Warm up and cool down times are important components of your workout and should not be skipped. Suggested stretches include squats, forward lunges and the “soldier walk.” This stretch involves you standing in place with your arms out in front and then trying to kick your hands, all while keeping your legs elongated.

Start slow.

Consider easing back into your exercise routine. Choose a distance or a certain amount of time and then gradually increase this over time.

Rest

It is important that we do give our muscles a chance to recover and heal when we are regularly exercising. Experts recommend either a day of rest in between workouts such as strength training or core work, such as yoga or other types of exercises.

Spring is here (despite the recent snowfall). What better time to jumpstart your physical activity program and get that “spring” back into your step?

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