Pulverize Pandemic Pounds...Safely
Written by: Christina Ruggeri, PT, DPT
Edited: Michael Clem, PT, DPT & Gregory Righter, PT, DPT
Ahhh yes, new year new you, the mantra so many of us use to help lose those pesky pounds after the holiday season. However, due to the pandemic, many of us are more deconditioned than our “normal”. The American Heart Association1 recommends 150 minutes of heart pumping physical activity per week, which breaks down to 30 minutes 5 days a week. Before lacing up the sneakers and trying new routines, ask yourself, “Have I met this recommendation?” If not, that’s ok, start slow, shoot for 2-3 days per week, then gradually increase. As for injury prevention, follow some of these tips:
- Warm Up & Cool Down- Crucial for injury prevention. Warming up increases blood flow to the muscles to prepare them for your routine. A 5-minute light jog or brisk walk are examples. Cool down helps the body return to its homeostatic baseline. Gentle stretching is a good form of a cool down holding for a minimum of 30 seconds per stretch, focusing on the muscle groups worked during your session. Click here for some helpful stretches.
- Footwear: American Council on Exercise2 recommends new sneakers every 300-500 miles for runners and every 4-6 months for non-runners. Lack of proper footwear support can lead to a variety of injuries, including low back pain.
- Running & Walking: Try a “Couch to 5k” app. This is a great tool to wean yourself into a running program in a slow controlled manner. Remember to land softly and quietly as if no one can hear you. Focus on time and NEVER speed. As for walking, try looking for routines on Pinterest or Google “Walking Routine” and look under the images for some other routines.
- Lifting: Always low and slow. Too much weight too soon is a sure way to strain a muscle. Form is also very important. For example, with squatting, put a chair behind you, try to squat as if you are going to sit fully in the chair, knees should not cross your toes, and stop right before your behind hits the chair. This may prove to be quite difficult, but your goal will be able to squat, touch your bottom to the chair and stand improving those important lifting muscles!
- Exercise Classes: Some classes will involve certain moves that may be too advanced. That’s ok. Before the class ask the instructor for modifications, modify yourself, and never compromise your health to perform an exercise that you might not be ready for.
- Rest: The body needs to rest to prevent burnout. American College of Sports Medicine3 recommend a rest day 1-2 days per week, more if you are starting from a more sedentary baseline. Check out Dr. Michael Clem’s “12 Tips to Improve Sleep,” which is a nice info graph illustrating how exercise, diet, stress/mental health, and breathing are all affected by sleep.
Best of luck with your fitness journey and be kind to yourself. Should you experience an ache or pain that does not go away, do not hesitate to visit a Spaulding Outpatient Center near you, so you can get back on track to achieve your fitness goals.
1 American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. 04-18-18. Retrieved from:
2 Haskell, W. 2019. Trending Topic Physical Activity Guidelines. Retrieved from:
3 Long, A. Are you wearing the right shoes for your workout?10-27-15. Retrieved from: https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/5702/are-you-wearing-the-right-shoes-for-your-workout/#:~:text=Most%20experts%20suggest%20replacing%20running,couple%20of%20times%20per%20week