As we approach Spring and the weather becomes milder we start to think about coming out of the hibernation of winter.

This is a good time for many of us to think about changing up our lifestyles and becoming more active. 

Here at Total Health West Berkshire our therapists have shared tips and advice on how to get started, how to get back into exercise, nourish yourself correctly with foods and also how to protect yourself and recover from any injury.

Getting started with anything new can be challenging and at times a little daunting.

Taking small steps to start is always a good way to approach something new.

Leonie from LKR Therapies has some great suggestions on how to get started and enjoy being more active;

‘ Everyday look for small ways to be more active that fit in with your daily lifestyle.Use the stairs instead of the lift, park your car 10 minutes further away from your office, walk the long way home. Do what you love – find a form of exercise that fits in with an activity you enjoy.  Not everyone enjoys the gym or running, but perhaps you enjoy dancing, walking the dog or cycling.  You are much more likely to stick to your activity goals if they are a pleasure and not a chore. Find a buddy to exercise with.

It’s always more fun with a friend, and it will also be a big help to keep you committed if you feel accountable to your friend’

Leonie Remington

If you are looking to be more active in the aim to take part in a specific sport or event Martin from MJP Therapies has told us a great way to approach this:

‘ Build up gradually, higher chance of injury if your body isn’t ready to take heavy exercise.

Consider activities that focus on flexibility and movement such as yoga or Pilates.

Do not forget an active warm up will prepare muscles & joints for activity better than static stretching.Have a training plan if preparing for events such as a half marathon

And If you’re feeling sore or achey, soft tissue therapy can aid recovery and improve performance’

Martin Paice – MJP Therapies

Our mindset has a great impact on how we can stay motivated and committed to a more active lifestyle.

Especially if it’s a whole new way of life, sometimes it can feel intimidating or overwhelming and we can shy away from trying something new.

Leonie from LKR therapies shares some great ways to help our way of thinking about being active:

‘ Focus on the positives that you will get from being more active, eg feeling fitter, clothes feeling more comfortable, greater strength, a more positive mindset.  Focusing on the benefits will naturally boost your motivation to be more active.

Visualise yourself exercising and experiencing the benefits that this will bring will help to set up the right pathways in the brain to naturally lead you to want to be more active.

Be realistic about what you can achieve. 

There is no point setting yourself unattainable activity goals, it will only mean that in the long term you fail. It is better to be consistently active a few times a week, than overdo it and then give up.

Use self hypnosis to help boost your motivation and desire to exercise and be more active.

Try and mix up your activity so that you are doing different things.  This will stop you from getting bored, and has the advantage of providing a more all round sense of fitness.’

Leonie Remington

Liz from Elizabeth Beckett Osteopathy gives us a great reminder on the importance of stretching after being active:

‘ Remember to stretch!

After a period of increased physical activity we should stretch.

The main focus of stretching after exercise is to enhance recovery and aid muscle repair.  Static stretching is designed to lengthen the muscle fibre and maintain range of motion and improve our flexibility.

To do an effective static stretch we hold the muscle into a lengthened position. We feel this stretch as tension in the muscle. Maintain that position for 30 seconds.

After 30 seconds you may find that the stretch has become more comfortable – this is due to the muscle fibres beginning to lengthen. Take the stretch a little further to find the new tension barrier, and again hold it for 30 seconds. It is useful to repeat a stretch for 3×30 seconds.’

Liz Beckett

We can often make the mistake with an injury or physical condition like arthritis to reduce what exercise and how active we are, sometimes this can result in longer recovery and more discomfort, Laura from Laura Fishlock Osteopathy suggest safe ways to explore safe ways to stay active:

‘ Naturally when we feel pain we are cautious about the movement and stress we put on our bodies but movement can be good. However Motion helps relieve symptoms and improve our mood.

Ease back into exercise. Modify the activity so you don’t cause pain at the site of injury. For example instead of running, hit the swimming pool, the water provides a natural resistance and supports your body weight making lighter work for your joints.

Depending on the nature or type of pain you are experiencing you won’t be able to return at the same pace, duration or intensity you were at pre-injury so starting at a lower activity levels on your return is a good way to slowly get your body use to more demanding movements.

Exercise can be tailored to you, your ability, fitness, injury and more. Particularly for Arthritis choosing  low-impact exercises like swimming and cycling are great alternatives to weight bearing.

Loading your joints through their full range of movement helps reduce stiffness and strengthen the surrounding muscles.

Your Arthritic pains should improve when exercising, if they don’t your activity may need modifying or switching to an alternative.’

Laura Fishlock

Rosie from Total Chiropractic reminds of ways to stay mindful of being active and doing what we can not to incur an injury:

‘If it is an activity that you have not done for a while then go back to it slowly. So if you have not been for a run for 6 months then do not rush back to running the distance and speed that you were doing. Build up the amount of running you do slowly. Apps like couch to 5K can be great for this. Remember, it is better to build up slowly than rush into exercise and injury yourself  which they will slow your progress a lot.

 Gardening is a hobby that we often get back into as the sunshine starts as we get ready for a spring and summer of garden activity. Try not to do everything all at once. Break the gardening tasks into manageable things to do each day and try alternating light tasks and heavy tasks to reduce the risk of injuring your back.

 Don’t ignore an injury. If you have hurt yourself then rest. Do not push through an injury that may just make it worse. Rest until it is pain free and then get back into your sport or activity slowly. But if it isn’t better after 3 weeks or is severely painful or limiting your ability to move then seek medical advice more urgently. I have a free chiro chat appointment which can be helpful if you have an injury that you do not know what to do about.’

Rosie Piercy

Things we can often overlook;

Flick Lucas from Ridgeway Nutrition shares the importance of keeping the body in balance with the foods we eat when we are more active so the following points can help you think about how you can help your body to stay nutritionally in balance:

1. The more active you are then the more energy you will need, your body is good at adapting so increase gradually. 

2.  For being active, adopt a low energy dense diet rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, lean meats, legumes, beans low fat dairy

3.  Protein – is your friend.  Remember timing, quality and intake.   Try and incorporate protein at every meal to aid in muscle recovery and repair.  Try and eat smaller amounts of food regularly throughout the day rather than 3 main meals.

4.  Spread your food intake around your exercise and training. That way you help your body recover.

5.  Avoid the temptation to restrict your energy intake severely. This can lead to loss of lean muscle and glycogen stores, all of which are important for the training athlete.

6.  Breakfast is really important.  It can help your body recover important glycogen stores that will have been lost during the overnight fast.  These stores are needed when you train.

7.  Before training have a low GI meal approximately 2 hours before exercise.  This carbohydrate will help you when exercise and training.

8.  Avoid high energy /sugary beverages.

9.  Protein Shakes – unless you are a bodybuilder then you won’t necessarily need protein shakes if you are trying to build muscle. A glass of milk / homemade protein shake will be just as good.  Or make your own protein balls with nuts, dates etc to have as a post exercise snack.

And we cannot forget our feet;

Louise from West Berkshire Foot Clinic gives us some wonderful tips on how we can look after our feet:

  • ‘Wash and dry feet well on a daily basis to avoid Athlete’s foot
  • Wash socks on a hot wash (60 degrees) to prevent Athlete’s Foot
  • Spray shoes with Daktarin Spray weekly to prevent Athlete’s Foot
  • Keep skin supple by applying a foot specific moisturiser to your feet on a daily basis
  • Keep nails short (but not too short!)
  • Keep hard skin down by Filing 2 times a week with a metal foot file BEFORE bathing or shower
  • Wear the correct activity for the activity you are doing!
  • Ensure footwear has a good, thick shock absorbing sole with a good fastening
  • See a podiatrist if you have any pains, wounds that won’t heal or any concerns’

We hope these tips will spur you on to become more active and avoid injury at the same time.

If you have any questions or need any information then please get in touch on 01635 791 301 and we will be very happy to help!

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