It is common knowledge that exercise is important in keeping your body healthy and functioning correctly. Yet many, still have a hard time squeezing exercise time into their busy schedules. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is recommended that adults get 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity in addition to two days of muscle-strengthening activity. For some, more time may be available to achieve their exercise goals on the weekends or days when work and school needs are lighter. This group of exercisers is frequently known as “weekend warriors.”
Being a weekend warrior is not a bad thing. Getting any amount of exercise, even if only on weekends, can be beneficial to your overall health. However, it is important to incorporate a few elements into your weekend warrior routine to ensure you avoid injuries and keep your body in tip-top shape!
9 Strategies to Keep Your Weekend Warrior Body Injury-Free
1. Warm-Up, Cool-Down, and Stretch!
If your body isn’t ready for physical activity, there is a higher likelihood that you will pull a muscle. Simple light active stretching, like a quick walk or some walking leg-raises, can prepare your muscles for your upcoming exercise session.
When you’re done with your exercise session, you may want to lie down and take a few deep breaths. Resist that urge and cool down slowly with a slow walk and stretching to keep your muscles limber.
2. Start Slow and Find a Friend
If you’re starting a new exercise program, take it slow! Find a friend that has similar interests and is at an equal level as you. Working out with a friend helps you stay accountable while not pushing yourself too hard (and risking injury), or feeling dejected with your performance when exercising with a friend who is more advanced in their regimen.
3. Mix it Up with a Variety of Exercises
Even weekend warriors run the risk of repetitive motion injuries like shin splints, tennis elbow, and IT band syndrome. Anytime you are participating in the same exercise over and over again, you run the risk of losing interest in your exercise program or injuring yourself. Keep your activities varied and fun. Find sports you enjoy and can easily engage in wherever the location and whatever the season.
4. Wear Proper Equipment
Exercise equipment can be expensive, yet it is important to wear proper gear for the activities you are participating in to avoid injury. If you take up bike riding, make sure to wear a well-fitting helmet. Running shoes may provide great support for putting in a few miles around the neighborhood, but may not be appropriate for hitting the tennis or basketball court where side to side movement is frequent. Make sure your equipment is not worn out and appropriate for the activities in which you are participating.
5. Engage in Regular Strength Training
Many fear engaging in strength training because they don’t want bulky muscles (which is a common misconception of strength training). There are so many incredible benefits of strength training, that it should be a critical part of everyone’s exercise routine. In a recent article, US News & World Report shares 11 Benefits of Strength Training That Have Nothing to Do With Muscle Size. Not only will strength training help lower your risk of injury, but it can also help stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce cancer risk, and strengthen your mental health.
6. Stay Hydrated
Becoming dehydrated can make you feel ill and be downright dangerous, so when you are engaging in strenuous physical activity, staying hydrated is important. Weekend warriors often engage in more intense and longer stretches of physical activity in an effort to get their minutes in. It is important to make sure you are drinking enough water and replenishing the electrolytes lost through sweat.
7. Try to Move Throughout the Week
The whole reason many people are weekend warriors is that they can’t find time during the week, but incorporating a few simple activities throughout the week can help keep your body limber. If you have a job that requires sitting at a desk for long periods of time, get up every hour, for a few minutes, and move around. Bend over to stretch your hamstrings, swing your arms back and forth, go up and down a flight of stairs, simply keep your body moving throughout the day. These little stretches or activity bursts can go a long way to keeping you injury-free during your exercise sessions.
8. Listen to Your Body
A little stiffness or soreness is not unusual for even the highest caliber of athletes. Stretching post-workout can help mitigate muscle soreness. But overdoing exercise is never a good thing. Sudden or shooting pains are not normal and if an ache or pain seems to be getting worse, it may be worthy to get checked out.
9. If You’re Injured, Come for a Visit
Voyage Healthcare’s team of family practice providers is well equipped to handle many “weekend warrior” type injuries. Don’t push through an injury as you don’t want to risk making it worse.