Tips to Help You Get Safely Back on the Exercise Horse
By Martha Michael
Not everybody had the means to purchase a Peloton bike or hire a personal yogi during the pandemic shutdown. Most active Americans did, however, make some type of change to their fitness practices over the last year and a half. As people reclaim their social lives, their exercise plan is changing too -- from virtual workouts and bike trails to gym visits and cardio classes.
Last Year’s Health Habits
If you’re one of the 61 percent of Americans who regret putting on pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic, you probably saw a variation to your diet and exercise habits during lockdown. Falling into a lifestyle of overeating and moving your body less frequently may have come naturally; it’s easier to put on weight than take it off.
An article in Healthline attributes the coronavirus weight gain to:
- Poor eating habits
- Increase in alcohol consumption
- Decrease in exercise
Among those who got heavier, the average weight gain was 29 pounds, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. And 10 percent of respondents report gaining more than 50 pounds. On some level, it’s not that surprising; changes in your weight are not unusual when you’re experiencing mental health challenges, and last year was rough for most Americans.
Now that you’re ready to return to something resembling your pre-pandemic fitness program, it’s important to recognize that making drastic changes to your habits can sometimes do more harm than good.
Getting Back on Track
Not only are you returning to restaurants and office space, it’s also the season for beach vacations. The sight of your body in a swimsuit may tempt you to roll off the couch and onto the treadmill, but it’s unrealistic to expect an instant six-pack from a couple of visits to the gym after 15 months at home.
If you insist on jumping in with both feet, just remember that a rapid and extreme rise in activity increases your risk of muscle or joint injuries from repetitive movements and overuse. An article by the Mayo Clinic says that overuse injuries such as tendinitis and stress fractures typically come from errors in training and/or technique.
When you move forward too quickly with a new fitness program or use poor form, you can overload muscles; you want to take care if you’re returning to a now less familiar activity such as throwing a ball or swinging a golf club. Tennis pro or weekend weightlifter, your muscles experience atrophy and you can more easily end up with problems such as knee pain due to weakened hip muscles.
An article by Harvard Health says that extreme levels of fitness can cause a life-threatening condition known as rhabdomyolysis. It’s a rare reaction to exercise when you push so hard that cells in your muscles burst and leak their contents into your bloodstream. Symptoms include muscle soreness, weakness, and darkly colored urine. In severe cases a patient can suffer from injuries to the kidneys.
It’s important to pay attention to your body when ramping up your exercise regimen. Your muscles need training to build up to a higher level of conditioning. Try not to be influenced by an overeager trainer or gym partner. Remember that the proper pace to push yourself is slow and steady.
Prevention and Treatment
To prevent exhaustion and other side effects from high-intensity exercise, drink plenty of fluids. Get an appropriate amount of rest, and balance your new exercise routine. Manage your expectations. Unless you’re an Olympic contender, you don’t need to go from zero to 60 in nothing flat.
It may be joint pain from overuse or a sprained ankle from attempting a marathon. Injuries sustained from extreme levels of exercise need assessment and treatment as early as possible. A chiropractor is specially trained to diagnose sports injuries and damage to muscles, ligaments, joints, and treatment of the spine. If you’re experiencing pain, numbness, instability or a reduction in your range of motion, seek chiropractic care for relief and to discuss preventative methods.
You may need changes to your fitness program and a chiropractor can help you with a customized plan. There are proven health benefits to exercise, but not if you’re repeatedly sidelined by injuries.
If you converted the garage into a gym last year, you aren’t facing the same challenges as a person jumping into a boot camp after months of inertia. Altering your exercise routine at a reasonable rate of speed along with regular health maintenance with a chiropractor is the best bet for a safe return to fitness.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.