Fitness tips: Put some spring in your step |

Fitness tips: Put some spring in your step

Craig Press staff report
Take small steps in improving your overall health.

Longer days and milder weather offer plentiful opportunities for getting out to exercise. Experts at WebMD  recommend preparing your body for your exercise program — especially if you used the cold weather as an excuse to become a couch potato.

“People should put their pride in the back seat and not go out and try to run 10 miles on the first day after a winter of little or no physical activity,” says Brian Crites, MD, head team doctor for more than 650 varsity athletes at the University of Maryland. “The ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality doesn’t work — you have to take it slow.”

The folks at offer tips to avoid sports injuries while springing ahead on your fitness goals.

• Slow but steady: Don’t succumb to the weekend warrior syndrome. Try to get some exercise three to four times per week on alternate days. One of the best ways to get injured or sore is to go hard all weekend and do nothing during the week.

Monitor your level of exertion: Use the perceived exertion scale, the talk test, or the heart rate range to help you determine an appropriate intensity level. Stay at the lower end of the scale (11 to 13), and build up over several weeks.

• Cross train: Varying your workouts can improve your performance and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. By participating in a variety of different activities, such as running, weight training, hiking, boot camp classes or biking, you limit the stress on one specific muscle group because different activities use muscles in slightly different ways.