Step Into Spring with These Heart-Healthy Tips
As the temperature starts to warm, many Americans think about lacing up their running shoes or pulling out their tennis rackets. But don’t let spring fitness fever corrupt your good judgment -- if you haven’t exercised all winter, it’s better to ease into physical activity.
Not sure where to start? Here are some tips:
* Start slow. Attempting too much too soon will result in an injury or “hitting a wall” -- reaching a point where your body can no longer recover from exercise. It takes about three weeks for your body to adjust to a new exercise routine and about six weeks before you’re ready for more aggressive activity. If you’re running, start with exercising three days a week. If you’re walking, you may be able to handle four or five days of exercise from the start. Increasing the duration or intensity of exercise by more than 10 percent each week puts you at a greater risk of injury, so be sure to progress gradually.
* Get the right equipment. Wear clothes that wick sweat -- you’ll be much more comfortable. If you’re a runner, proper footgear will help your legs avoid unnecessary strain. Likewise, a well-fit bicycle can help cyclists avoid knee and other injuries.
* Don’t push through pain. Most exercise injuries are overuse injuries, meaning they occur when athletes push their muscles, tendons and bones past their limits. One sign that you’ve reached your limit? Pain. If you experience real discomfort, it’s better to take a few days off or see a doctor than risk worsening an injury.
Of course, some muscle pain is perfectly normal for those starting up an exercise routine. Schedule recovery days -- days in which you either don’t exercise or engage in very light activity -- to give your muscles a chance to rebuild between workouts.
If you experience routine muscle soreness, a topical product may help speed your recovery. For example, one product, Absorbine Jr. (www.absorbinejr.com), contains natural menthol and herbal extracts. The liquid pain reliever creates a penetrating warmth to soothe sore muscles, aching joints, arthritis and back and foot pain. Because it increases blood flow to sore muscles, Absorbine Jr. actually helps muscles heal as it provides pain relief. Absorbine products were initially formulated to soothe the strong muscle pain in horses. This inspired Absorbine Jr. for humans.