Friday, January 8, 2010

Exercise Advice for the New Year: Training vs. Straining


As we begin a new year, many of us make a commitment to lose weight and get in shape. Exercising is a great way to achieve these goals, but according to USA Physical Therapist Joan Friedlander, there are some considerations for success for those who haven’t exercised in a while.

Friedlander, who is a McKenzie Certified Neck/Back Specialist in Outpatient Therapy at USA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, says the danger for many who are just starting is “over-enthusiastic training,” resulting in injury and frustration.

“When exercising, you actually stress your system and your body becomes stronger and faster because of the load of stress placed upon it,” said Friedlander. “If too much stress is endured, injury such as a strained or torn muscle can occur, making the healing process a priority and placing exercise on the backburner.”

In providing advice to newbie exercisers, Friedlander strongly recommends starting with an exercise plan that emphasizes long-term goals rather than short-term goals. The plan itself will help you avoid exercise-related injuries.

“When developing your exercise routine, having a definite schedule in advance helps you to stick to your plan and reduces the tendency to skip exercising or make excuses,” said Friedlander. “Having an exercise partner is another great way to create your health fitness habit and also provides you with encouragement to stay on track.”

As part of your exercise plan, Friedlander recommends keeping a written log of repetitions, distance, and weight to show your fitness progress over time. Then gradually increasing the exercise intensity to reduce risks of injury.

“Explore different exercise options and find something you enjoy doing,” said Friedlander. “Also vary the types of exercise you do as a way to keep the plan fun. Both of these tactics will increase your chances of sticking with your fitness plan.”

According to Friedlander, exercise variety is also important because different exercises focus on different joints and muscles. She gives the example of a workout with cycling for 10 minutes, rowing for 10 minutes, and stair stepping for 10 minutes.

Lastly, Friedlander encourages people to seek out advice. For those with medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes, she recommends talking with your doctor about your plan to ensure that it works as part of your overall treatment plan. At the gym, talk with the staff if you have questions about how to use equipment.

For more advice on developing your fitness plan and “training without straining” you can visit the USA Department of Orthopaedic Surgery website – http://www.southalabama.edu/com/ortho .

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