Press-Republican

April 2, 2013

Fit Bits: Spring changes can enliven exercise

By JOHN VASILE, Fit Bits
Press-Republican

---- — Long overdue spring weather is finally arriving, and many people are excited to get outside and start enjoying outdoor activities.

Springtime is a perfect time to kickstart new fitness routines and work toward a healthier lifestyle. The longer days and warmer weather provide great motivation for fitness.

Regular exercise can improve your mood, increase wellness and strengthen your heart and muscles, all while burning calories. There are a number of ways to jumpstart this season and rejuvenate your workouts.

GET A PHYSICAL

Now is a great time to make a doctor’s appointment and get a physical exam. Everyone should get examined annually and get an idea of their health status.

A simple blood test can determine cholesterol levels, vitamin deficiencies, glucose levels, as well as other parameters. Blood pressure should also be checked to assess risk of stroke and heart disease.

Exam results will not only show possible risk factors but will encourage individuals to partake in fitness in order to increase health.

WORKOUT GEAR

Spring is a time of rebirth and regrowth. This concept can transition to your fitness wear. If you have not already done so, go out and purchase some new workout/running shoes.

A typical running shoe lasts for 300 to 400 miles. Even though many people do not keep track of the mileage on their shoes, it may be necessary to change them after using them all winter on the treadmill. Everyday activity in these shoes counts as wear and tear, too.

It is probably time to update your workout clothes, as well. Many of us still wear cotton shirts for workouts when we should be changing to apparel made of breathable, wick fabric. Not only will you feel better, but you will look better as well. Both are important for accomplishing fitness goals.

SKIN PROTECTION

Due to upcoming nice weather, most people will be heading outdoors. More sunshine means happier people and more Vitamin D, which is vital for bone health.

However, it is important to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Be sure to apply waterproof sunblock of at least SPF 15 on all exposed areas. Don’t forget your ears, neck and the creases near your underarms.

CLEAR SHELVES

Time to get rid of that holiday candy laden with sugars. Spring cleaning should include the pantry and fridge, as well.

Toss food of low nutritional value (chips, cookies, white bread, etc.) and restock with fruits, vegetables, healthy snacks (such as rice cakes), whole grain foods and healthy protein sources (such as chicken, fish, pork). Hit up that farmers market on a nice day in order to buy some of these healthy products.

A sensible diet is just as important, if not more, than the exercise itself.

NEW MUSIC

Spring is a great time to update your playlists on your iPods and other music players. Listening to the same music over and over again can get boring and negatively affect your exercise ambition.

Make sure to include upbeat music that makes you want to work hard and break a sweat. If you use your phone for music, try downloading an application for streaming music and let these stations pick the playlists for you.

Listening to music can make your workouts more enjoyable and effective.

NEW SPORT

In addition to running, biking, gardening and other outdoor activities, it is important to try new sporting activities. Take up tennis or golf in order to build hand-eye coordination. These are two great sports for a full range of age groups that can be enjoyed outdoors.

Go with experienced friends or take a few lessons; you may find a new passion.

STAY HYDRATED

It is extremely important to consume water, especially when working out. You need to rehydrate in order to make up for fluids lost through sweat.

Drinking about two liters (about eight glasses) a day will help to prevent muscle cramping and fatigue. In addition, drink two eight-ounce glasses a couple of hours before exercise.

Stick to BPA-free bottles to avoid harmful chemical ingestion.

Hopefully these fitness tips will encourage a strong commitment to exercise this spring. You will be on your way to enjoying a fun-filled and healthy summer.

Don’t forget, it is important to keep that gym membership, though, as strength training at least twice per week is still crucial.

John Vasile, NSCA, holds a bachelor’s degree and is a certified personal trainer at the Wellness Center at PARC, located at 295 New York Road (next to ARC) in Plattsburgh. For more information, call him at 324-2024.