Getting back into an exercise routine when you’ve spent the winter months in near hibernation takes effort, but the health benefits are worth it, an athletic trainer with Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital said.
Missy Anderson, who works with the nonprofit hospital’s Performance Plus Program, said it’s important to consider six tips to help you succeed and reach your fitness goals.
Set attainable goals. “A lot of people set a goal of losing 20 pounds, but it’s better if you break that up into smaller, attainable goals,” Anderson said. A more realistic goal might be to say you’ll work out three times a week. The next goal could be to work out four times a week, then up it to five. As you reach your smaller goals, you’ll move steadily closer to your big goal.
Anderson works with local athletes and others who want to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle to set attainable goals in the 18-session Performance Plus Program. Participants work with a certified performance enhancement specialist to improve their power, agility, endurance and speed. The program is customized to a participant’s current fitness level to help them reach their sport or personal goals.
Start slowly. Some people try to jump back in where they left off when they resume their workouts, Anderson said. That can be a recipe for failure. You’ll become sore and may find yourself discouraged. Start at a slower rate and don’t feel obligated to work out for the same amount of time before you stopped your exercise routine.
Walk or jog lightly before stretching. “Many people stretch as a warm-up before working out, but you could injure yourself if you don’t begin with a light walk or jog for five to 10 minutes,” she said. Our muscles can be like a cold rubber band, Anderson said. If you stretch it right away, it could snap. But if you give it time to warm up, it’s more flexible and can stretch farther.
Don’t think you need fancy equipment. “Everybody says they’re going to join a gym to get into shape; many of them never follow through,” Anderson said. People use that as an excuse why they haven’t started working out. However, there are plenty of ways to use your own body weight to get good exercise – without using gym equipment or buying your own. Push-ups and air squats are two effective exercises you can do at home.
Use multiple major muscle groups when working out. Some people pick out one muscle group and focus on it, such as getting great biceps. “It’s OK if you want to build up your biceps, but you have to make sure the opposite muscle, the triceps in this case, is just as strong,” Anderson said. The bicep bends your arm; the tricep straightens it.
Don’t forget to refuel … but save your money. “People buy protein shakes or whey protein to help their muscles refuel after a workout,” Anderson said. “You don’t need to buy that stuff. Low-fat milk, for example, is a fantastic drink after you exercise.” Low-fat milk has carbohydrates and proteins, helps your muscles and energy level elevate after your workout, and is low in sugar and fat.
For athletes and others ready to go to the next level, Anderson said Performance Plus offers a customized program of strength training and agility exercises to strengthen and improve their performance. Performance Plus uses scientifically valid, evidence-based applications that can help achieve remarkable results, she said.
To schedule an appointment or for more information about the Performance Plus Program, call (217) 605-5500.