Steamboat Springs Signs of spring are everywhere. The Yampa Valley is reawakening with new growth and a renewed sense of energy. The great outdoors is beckoning, but before you bolt out the door, you may want to think about what you're trying to gain from your second attempt at your New Year's resolution to "exercise more."
Is going out with a full-steam-ahead attitude in your best interest? Your mind says yes, but your body may want to think twice about it.
What were you doing two months ago when the snow was still thick on the ground? If skiing or boarding was your primary form of recreation, it may not be wise to attempt to run or bike endlessly. You need to keep your fitness intentions reasonable and pace yourself accordingly.
Spring is a time of transition. The flowers don't burst into bloom in a single day, and peak conditioning doesn't happen overnight. A little progress day by day is preferable to overdoing it during the first week of nice weather.
Winter-to-summer transitions can be eased when you take advantage of some logical connections between winter sports and summer sports. For example, skate skiing can easily translate to in-line skating, and snowshoeing relates well to speed walking and hiking. You may already have an excellent base of conditioning, and you simply need to adapt to the changes in surface terrain and equipment.
Start with your best transition activity, gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts and add new activities progressively. If your chosen warm-weather sport involves totally different muscle groups than your winter activity, you might consider working with a personal trainer who can recommend specific strengthening and flexibility programming.
Now is also the time to get into the weight room. A well-rounded
program aimed at increasing muscular endurance and strength training will help maintain essential muscle balance.
So, before you run out the door, think about the big picture going into the beautiful months ahead. A well-balanced conditioning program includes cardiovascular conditioning, weight training and flexibility work. If you leave out important aspects of fitness training, you may be leaving yourself open to a greater chance for injury.
Also, remember to warm up whenever you exercise. The first several minutes of your workout should be devoted to something that will increase respiration, circulation and body temperature. Don't add speed and intensity before you're thoroughly warmed up. When you've completed your workout, take the time to stretch. It's a good idea to focus on the muscle groups that were specific to your activity.
By using your common sense, a gradual approach and good training techniques, you truly will "spring into health."
Karen Van Scoyk is a wellness counselor for the Yampa Valley Health Plan.