Thinking about getting back into working out? Or maybe it’s the first time you’ve really worked out consistently? Let’s talk about what I usually see when that happens…
First, I see my patient come to the conclusion that they’ve had enough, that they want to start exercising (usually to lose weight, but not always). Which is a good thing – exercise is going to be a key element to your long-term health and ability to enjoy daily activities.
If weight loss is the only goal, I think your exercise program is destined to fail. One of 3 things will happen; 1) You don’t lose weight fast enough and get discouraged 2) You do lose weight, so you’re done working out until you gain weight again or 3) You decide you’re fine how you are and just stop trying to exercise.
A Better Goal
A better goal is to exercise strictly because it’s good for you to do it. My wife and I semi-joke that we just want to be able to get off the toilet by ourselves when we’re 80 years old. When I take a look at the scale and see that my weight has crept up a few pounds, I make changes to my diet.
Exercise is just a fact of life and it’s something we need to stop thinking of as a chore and more of a necessary part of being able to enjoy life as we get older (and getting more out of life when we’re younger). It took me forever to come to that conclusion. I wanted it to be easier, to get results with less effort, and just wanted to check the box that I did it.
Problems With Starting An Exercise Program
There are some common problems I see with patients that start up an exercise program – and here’s what you can do to avoid falling into these traps.
No Plan Or No Plan That Will Yield Results
You’re probably not a personal trainer, so why should you expect to be able to come up with a plan on your own that will yield results for you? Results can take several forms, so figure out what’s going to make you happy. Will you feel better if you can squat more weight? Run a 5K? Lift 50 lbs? It’s unlikely that you will come up with an effective plan on your own, so hire a trainer, take a class, or download one of a bajillion programs you can get for free on YouTube or anywhere online.
No Plan To Increase Intensity
While I want you to exercise and I understand that some exercise is better than no exercise, my goal for you is that you can stay active for life. I want your spine to function, to move properly, and to be free of degeneration and nerve interference. To get the most out of your exercise program, there has to be some moments that are uncomfortable.
Walking around the block is not a bad thing, but it’s not going to be the “get off the toilet by yourself” kind of exercise and I don’t want you to waste time thinking you’re setting yourself up for that kind of success. This goes back to having a trainer or a plan. Your heart rate will need to go up sometimes and you’ll have to lift weights and try new things to get the most from your program.
Injured After 2 Weeks
This has to be the most frustrating for me to see over and over again. I see the enthusiasm. I see the effort. I see that you’ve finally started exercising… and then injuries start to accumulate. My patients start at the gym, start walking on the treadmill and hitting the weight machines when hip pain, back pain, and shoulder pain start to show up.
They initially try to overlook it until they just can’t. So they take a break from working out and that “break” turns into months of no exercise until they can get motivated to start all over again. Then it’s back at the gym, having fun, then injured again. It’s an endless cycle unless you take a different approach.
So Start With This!
The limiting factor in why you end up getting injured is your limited range of motion. Your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are just way too tight and they are a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. Take you super-tight hamstrings and hip rotators – put them on a treadmill 3 – 5x per week and then get back in your car and drive home. You’ll feel stiffer, more sore, and then the pain will start.
For most of my patients, I’d suggest starting with yoga classes. You probably won’t like it at first. There’s a bunch of people that are way more flexible, but don’t compare yourself. Use them as inspiration as to where you can go. Yoga probably won’t make you lose weight at the rate you might like, but it will help you get stronger and more flexible.
Once you’ve been going to yoga on a consistent basis (a few times per week), then you can start adding in the workout programs that increase your heart rate and strength. Then you can jump on that treadmill and feel like you’re really doing something. The best part is you’ll get to keep doing it and not worry about so many injuries.
How Does This Affect Your Chiropractic Care?
Let your chiropractor know you’re back working out. We’ll look at your spine and muscles a little differently. We’ll point out areas most likely to get injured and give you specific tips to help you avoid those issues. The effects on your spine will also change too. Your daily activities affect all of you, and we can take a look at what’s different and respond accordingly.
Take one more step towards better health — and let us be a part of it!