According to many estimates, only 1 out of 5 Americans gets the recommended amount of exercise each week. On top of that, some of them are trying to cram their whole workout program into 2 days. Can being a weekend warrior be good for your health?
It depends. On the one hand, even small amounts of exercise can be beneficial. On the other hand, regular workouts provide superior conditioning and lower your risk of injuries. Take a look at these suggestions for staying safe and fit all week long.
Preventing Common Weekend Warrior Injuries
1. Talk with your doctor. While athletes tend to experience overuse injuries that heal after some rest, weekend warriors are more prone to acute injuries that require medical treatment. Call your doctor or go to an emergency room if a joint or bone feels strange or can’t bear weight. Prolonged discomfort and excessive swelling are also warning signs.
2. Avoid muscle strains. Muscles tear when they’re stretched too far. Spend at least 5 minutes warming up, and work on your flexibility each day.
3. Protect your tendons. The most frequently injured tendon is the Achilles that pushes your foot off the ground when you walk or run. The victims are usually men who participate in sports infrequently. Care for your tendons with calf raises and other stretches, and lose any excess weight.
4. Soothe lower back pain. Exercise is good for your back, but some movements can cause repetitive stress. If you’re sore, try alternatives like yoga or swimming.
Tips for Weekends
1. Watch for fatigue. Are you listening to your body? Stop what you’re doing if you’re shaking and feeling exhausted. That’s when you’re more likely to have an accident.
2. Learn good form. Proper technique is also a good way to stay safe. Work with a trainer or watch a friend who has more experience. Browse online for advice or pick up a book at the library.
3. Adjust your competitive drive. You may need to dial down the intensity even if you were a track star in high school or you’re playing basketball with a buddy who’s urging you on. Consider your age and physical condition.
4. Mix it up. Maybe you head to the softball field each Saturday or jog through the park. Varying your routine will help you target other body parts for a change.
5. Be gentle. Vigorous exercise is effective, but you can still start small. Burn calories gardening or playing with your dog.
Tips for Weekdays
1. Move more. If you have trouble squeezing in a visit to the gym on workdays, you can still become more physically active. Climb the stairs instead of riding the elevator. Buy dumbbells or a treadmill you can use at home.
2. Sit less. You’ve probably heard news stories about the health consequences of extensive sitting. Take breaks at work to stroll around.
3. Train in short intervals. Brief periods of intense activity can do wonders for your muscles and heart. Jump rope or run for 5 minutes.
4. Manage your time. Keep track of what you’re doing with your free time. Maybe you could work out regularly if you woke up an hour earlier or asked your kids to help with the chores. As usual, you’re more likely to find time for activities you love, so consider dance classes or fencing if that’s your passion.
If possible, make exercise part of your daily routine instead of saving all the fun for your weekend. Whenever you work out, choose a program that matches your fitness level and feel good about strengthening your body and mind through physical activity.