A Spring Tune-up for Your Body4 Steps to Get Your Cylinders Running
-- By Zach Van Hart, Staff Writer
It’s finally here. The snow is gone, that little breeze feels good, and the birds are chirping; it must be spring. Your mind is ready, but is your body? Some of us may have spent the winter hibernating from fitness, but spring is a time of rebirth and a perfect point to revamp your exercise regimen. No need to worry. No drastic changes are needed. Small improvements will give your body a kick start out of winter. Here is the SparkPeople 4-step plan to give your body a spring tune-up and make these next few months pay off.
1. Turn on the ignition right away
Every morning for the past few months, the routine has been the same: You wake up to the sound of your alarm. It’s dark outside. All you want is 10 more minutes of sleep. So what do you do? Hitting the snooze button is so easy and seeminly harmless that it can become a part of your morning routine without a second thought. But those extra few minutes have negative side effects that can last throughout the day, right up until the trend continues the following morning.
By snoozing for 10, 20, 30 minutes, or more, your body starts the day off on a lethargic foot. It’s a feeling that can take the body hours to recover from. Plus, as the day ends, you will feel tired earlier than you would without snoozing. What are the benefits to waking up before that third beep on the alarm? For starters, it gives you an energy burst that will get you out the door. Without snoozing, you are getting better, more solid sleep that will keep you more energized throughout the day. The sooner your ignition is on, the better your body will operate.
2. Make small repairs
This is just a tune-up; we are not overhauling the entire engine! The key to making improvements is small changes. A simple and overlooked way to help your body is stretching. Many of us only view stretching as a quick warm-up before a vigorous workout, but 15 minutes are sometimes all that anyone needs. Stretched and relaxed muscles help all areas of the body: energy, circulation to joints and tissues, and strength and mobility.
Limiting yourself to 15 or even 10 minutes of exercise will allow your body to ease back into working order. A 15-minute jog or a round of push-ups and sit-ups is easy to handle, and you earn huge rewards considering the time put in. Even tossing a ball with a co-worker, child or spouse will help implement those small changes. If you want an easy way to work the whole body, try our SparkPeople 10 Ten Minute Workouts.
3. Take care of the dirty work
Get excited about chores. Are you serious? How could cutting the grass, trimming the bushes, cleaning the gutters and spreading mulch be activities to look forward to? Consider the following: if not for these chores, would you be outside and getting into shape, or lounging on the couch with the A/C on? Like them or not, chores are a great way to give your body a kick start on warmer days. Weeding, pushing a mower, and other activities are great exercises for your upper body, especially for building endurance. Plus, if it’s a sunny day, you can work on that tan for the summer at the same time! (Just make sure to wear the sunscreen with a high SPF level).
4. Go for bursts of speed
Some call it cabin fever; others call it an energy jolt. It’s that random moment when you feel like running a four-minute mile, dunking a basketball, or bench pressing 300 pounds. So when this moment comes to you, take advantage. With the weather getting nicer and the days getting longer, the settings are just right.
The possibilities are endless. Jump on the bike. Throw on your running shoes and go. Pop in an exercise tape. Play some hoops with your kid or your roommate. Even a game of pickle in the backyard! Don’t hold back. Go ahead and push yourself because that’s what your body wants. Of course, it's important to warm up first and stretch, as well as to stop before the point of complete exhaustion. It may only take 15 minutes before you’re beat, but your body will be running on all cylinders and headed down the right track towards being healthy and happy.
This article was reviewed and approved by Joe Downie, Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach.