Spring is here! It’s the time of year when many of us start itching to do yard work or look forward to jogging outside again. The warmer weather is great for back and joint health because it encourages people to be more active. But if you’ve been sedentary most of the winter, you’ll need to ease back into activity to avoid injuring yourself. Here are four great ways to be more active this spring and how to do them safely.
1. Start a Vegetable Garden
Growing your own food is satisfying and leads to a healthier diet. You can sow seeds for cool-weather crops like snap peas, broccoli, and lettuce early in the spring and harvest them in late spring. You can begin planting warm-weather crops like tomatoes and cucumbers in mid-April or early May.
Getting your garden prepped for the season might take some elbow grease and can be great exercise. Whether you decide to build a raised garden or hoe up a patch of dirt, you’ll be breaking a sweat and doing something productive at the same time. After the garden is in, you’ll need to weed regularly. If you are caring for a yard with flower beds and a lawn that needs mowing, you should have plenty to keep you busy and active for the next few seasons.
Gardening Safety: Always wear closed-toed shoes, sun protection, and gloves to keep yourself safe while gardening. Remember that gardening can be a workout, so you should prepare accordingly by warming up with some jumping jacks and stretches before you hoe your row. If you’ve been very sedentary for months, consider walking or doing light strength training for a few weeks before jumping into a strenuous gardening session. To protect your back, kneel on a pad instead of bending over from the waist for long periods.
Additional Health Benefits: Gardening has been shown to ease anxiety and boost mood. Eating fresh vegetables like tomatoes and greens increases your intake of inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Additionally, vegetables grown close to home contain more vitamins and minerals than the older veggies you’ll find at most grocery stores.
2. Join a Walking Group
Walking around your neighborhood can be a great way to witness the pleasures of spring and get some exercise at the same time. Doing it in a group can be even more beneficial. Many of us become both more sedentary and more isolated in the winter months. Joining a walking group near your area or creating one with your friends is a great way to break out of hibernation this spring.
Walking is often underestimated, but it’s a great fat-burning, strength-building exercise. Humans are made to walk five miles per day, and more walking can improve overall fitness, diabetes management, frequent constipation, and other common health concerns. Don’t try to hit five miles your first time out (unless you’ve been hitting the track all winter). It’s best to start slow, with a leisurely half mile, and work your way up.
Walking Safety: From a fitness perspective, walking is about the safest exercise you can do to get back in shape, as long as you ease into it. If you’ll be walking at night, make sure to wear reflective clothing.
Additional Health Benefits: walking outside has many of the same mental health benefits as gardening. It allows you to enjoy nature and feel more grounded. Getting some social interaction while you walk adds additional benefits. Positive social interactions have been associated with reduced heart disease risk in people of all ages. Social interaction may also prevent or reduce dementia symptoms in the elderly.
3. Practice Your Freestyle
When it’s warm enough to hit the indoor pool without freezing on the way to your car, you might want to get some laps in. Swimming is a great activity to help you ease into being more active. It’s considered low impact, meaning it’s easy on your joints. Swimming is a full-body workout. The water provides resistance, making it a great choice for burning calories.
Folks struggling with joint or back pain are great candidates for swimming or water activities like water aerobics. Since it’s low impact, it won’t cause as much discomfort as working out on land. Movement is good for arthritis symptoms and many kinds of back pain. Swimming can help you get that movement in safely.
Swimming Safety: If you know how to swim, swimming can be a great starter exercise in the spring. It’ll ease you back into being active, and if you are also strength training, it can improve recovery. It’s never too late to learn how to swim, so if you need to improve your skills, look into adult swimming lessons. If you’d prefer not to swim but still want to experience the benefits of water-based exercise, look into water aerobics classes.
Additional Health Benefits: Swimming, even in an indoor pool, can be profoundly relaxing for many people. Some of the stress relieving and brain chemical boosting benefits of swimming mirror those of other aerobic exercises, but the water is more calming for some people. The rhythmic breathing required in swimming is similar to yoga. Individuals who swim regularly may notice improvements in stress levels and sleep. Those who are healing from an injury can benefit from swimming because it increases circulation without impact.
4. Pump in the Park
Have you ever been strolling through your local park and noticed a fitness class being held under the trees? This could be your year to take part. Participating in a class led by a licensed instructor has many benefits. They can advise you on modifying the exercise routine for your needs and help you get the form right. Fitness classes typically begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. All these factors make a fitness class safer for someone new to working out. Doing it outside in the spring weather adds a relaxing element and may improve your motivation to go to class.
Most large towns have several choices of outdoor fitness classes, ranging from INSANITY- inspired workouts to Tai Chi. Pick the one that matches your interests and fitness level. Finding an activity you enjoy is the best way to stay in shape.
Fitness Class Safety: As we mentioned, a licensed instructor should know how to keep their students safe. Make sure the instructor is licensed or has experience and good reviews. Don’t overestimate your fitness level. If you join an intermediate strength training class with no experience, you won’t have a good time and could get hurt.
Additional Health Benefits: Working out in the great outdoors is always even better for your mental health than working out indoors. The social experience of a fitness class adds the same benefits as a walking group. If staying true to your fitness goals is a challenge, a class could help you. Most people don’t skip out on something they’ve paid for, and if you make a friend in the class, you could hold each other accountable. There’s also a lot to be said for learning how to work out from a professional. It will benefit you long after the class is over.
Chiropractic Care in Tennessee
At Stanlick Chiropractic, we provide comprehensive pain treatment and prevention for the whole family. Our experts can help you rebalance your body after a long, sedentary winter. We can also advise you on avoiding injury and treating any pain you have so you can be more active this spring. Schedule a consultation today to discover how chiropractic care can help you reach your wellness goals.