Back into the Spring of Things: How to get back on track after the lull in the Winter
In winter, it is normal to feel less motivated with exercise and physical activity. Now that the days are getting longer and nights are shorter we can help you get into the spring of things! Research has shown that being active has many health benefits and helps decrease your risk of chronic disease. But if you don’t know where to begin, here’s a list of activities that are inexpensive and fun, especially if you do them with friends, to help you get started:
Gladwell and his colleagues in 2013 reported that exercise performed outdoors helped increase levels of physical activity and decreased the rate of perceived exertion – that is, for the same amount of energy burnt, it felt easier to exercise outdoors than indoors. Psychological benefits of exercising outdoors include improvement in mood and reduced stress levels. Outdoor activities are not only confined to thrill seeking activities but also include simple activities such as walking or cycling around the neighbourhood, around the park or hiking or trail-riding in the bush. Green exercise is good exercise! Trade the treadmill walking for outdoor walking near the river or amongst the trees.
Walking & Running
An outdoor activity such as walking, especially one that accomplishes 10,000 steps a day, can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes (Brown et al 2006) and in a study done in Rockhampton where they walked 10,000 steps for 15 weeks, it was found that the participants reported improved well-being and fitness levels. Using a pedometer to track the number of steps has been found to be effective in increasing physical activity (Chan et al 2004) and significantly decreases Body Mass Index (a measure of determined by height and weight) and blood pressure (Bravata et al 2007). Walk to work if you can and incorporate it to your daily activities.
If walking on the streets is not exciting enough then hiking or nordic walking (walking while using poles) also benefits resting heart rate, exercise capacity and improves quality of life of people with various diseases (Tschentscher et al 2013).
You then may be able to progress to increasing your pace and start adding some jogging or light running intervals to increase the intensity of the exercise. If you have never been much of a runner though, it might be a good idea to have a running assessment and get some instruction on good form and training techniques from your physiotherapist. Always progress a new activity slowly, and if you do develop niggles anywhere, don’t ignore it, pop in for a check-up and advice so we can keep you on the road.
Is your work near your home? Then ditch the car and ride the bike. In Brisbane city, we have access to public bicycles and they are situated in different, easy access locations around the city. Just like walking, researchers have found strong evidence for fitness and health benefits and moderate evidence for risk factors for cardiovascular disease (Oja et al 2013).
Did you know that countries such as Netherlands and Germany have included promotion of safe walking and cycling in their campaign for improving public health (Pucher, Dijkstra 2003). Just recently in July, the Australian Walking and Cycling Inc (AWCC) was formed and it is the only national forum in Australia that has focused on research and promotion of mobility in Australia. They have recently joined forces with the Heart Foundation, which aims to prevent premature death caused by cardiovascular disease in Australia. Be part of the movement! Live long!
Now, if you are limited by time or musculoskeletal injury, Pilates is a good way to get active if grunting in the gym and crossfit are not your thing. Pilates-based exercise and functional strengthening have been very popular in recent years, especially for people who enjoy performing slow, controlled movement. In fact, for rehabilitation, this form of controlled movement retraining and strengthening under the guidance of a physiotherapist, can provide an ideal foundation for return to normal daily activities and for dynamic higher level sports or work tasks. There is evidence that Pilates helps improve functional ability and decrease pain in people with chronic low back pain (Wajswelner et al 2012). It can also help improve dynamic balance (Johnson et al 2007) which would be beneficial both if you are feeling a little unsteady on your feet, or for higher level sporting activities where balance and control is critical for performance and injury prevention.
As we mentioned above, green exercise is good exercise. You get the best of both worlds with the outdoors all around with our Pilates classses. Try it out.
Now we have given you something to think about, have you decided what activity you would like to spring back into? Once you have decided, set a goal and train for it.
Here are some useful links to activities around Australia for events you may be interested in:
If you are still not sure where or how to start, come and see one of our highly trained physiotherapists to help you spring back into action.
Bravata et al (2007). Using Pedometers to increase Physical Activity and Improve Health: A Systematic Review. The Journal of the Americal Medical Assoc. 298 (19)
Brown et al (2006) 10,000 Steps Rockhampton: Evaluation of a Whole Community Approach to Population Levels of Physical Activity. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 1:1-14
Johnson et al (2007). Effects of Pilates-based exercises on Dynamic Balance. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies . 11 (3)
Oja et al (2103) Health Benefits of Cycling: A systematic Review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 21(4)
Pucher,Dijkstra (2003). Promoting Safe walking and Cycling to Improve Public Health: Lessons from the Netherlands and Germany. American Journal of Public Health . 93(9)
Tschentscher et al (2103).Health Benefits of Nordic Walking. American Journal of Preventive Medicine . 44(1)
Wajswelner et al (2012). Clinical Pilates vs. General Exercise for Chronic Low back pain: Randomized Control Trial. Med Sci Sports Exerc . 44 (7)