6 Keys to Becoming Weekend Warrior
By Lauren Noelle Gauthier
Weekend activities and outdoor adventures like team sports, hikes, swimming and skiing can be good for both the mind and the body. Your well-earned weekend recreation has the added benefits of boosting your mood, reducing stress, increasing muscle and cardiovascular health and providing a great social outlet.
Here are seven simple tips to make your weekend performance better, safer and more fun.
1. Stretch…for Flexibility. Contrary to what you may have heard since the soccer ball was almost as big as you, the jury is out on some of the health benefits of stretching. Not that it’s bad for you, but stretching before you work out may cause a short-term decrease in muscle strength and power, and stretching after a workout may not reduce muscle soreness. Instead, stretch routinely with the overall goals of flexibility and joint range of motion. Postural stability and balance can also be improved with flexibility exercises. Muscles should be warm before you stretch, so stretching after a workout is ideal, but a few minutes of walking, or other activity, can also work. Aim to perform flexibility exercises at least 2-3 days per week, even for just 10 minutes before you go to bed to reap some benefits.
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2. Warm up and cool down before and after every exercise. Different from stretching, a warm-up is a simple way to avoid injuries. Five to ten minutes of light to moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking or jogging, or dynamic stretching (e.g. shoulder rolls, arm circles, leg swings, etc.) is a great way to prepare your body for progressive exercise intensity and minimize injuries.
3. Factor in resistance training. It’s an essential component of a well-balanced exercise program and will help build muscular power, strength, and endurance, and help reduce the load on joints as the stronger muscles take on more of the impact and load. Aim for 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions for all major muscle groups on 2-3 non-consecutive days each week as a starting point for improving overall muscular fitness.
4. Do simple aerobic conditioning – it can have a huge impact on your weekend performance and everyday energy level. Light jogging, hiking, aqua-therapy, tai-chi, yoga and rowing are easy, low impact ways to optimize cardiovascular health, limit damage to cartilage and joints while burning calories. And try interval training up to three non-consecutive days each week to take your aerobic fitness to the next level.
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5. Take supplements like Omega 3's, glucosamine, antioxidants, vitamin D and more daily. Yep, it’s not an old wives’ tale. Adding the right nutrition and dietary supplements can make a big difference in your sports performance and general wellbeing. A healthy diet, including adequate fluid intake, is essential to all athletes, professionals and weekend warriors. Always consult your doctor on the appropriate supplements to take.
6. Invest in proper foot support. Whether you’re an active runner or just getting into a regular running or jogging routine, proper training and preparation using the right gear is crucial to preventing overuse injuries. Also, consider seeing a podiatrist for advice on inserts and shoe wear, especially if you have foot pain.
Remember to consult your physician for medical clearance prior to starting any exercise program. Exercise at your own pace and to no more than discomfort. Do not participate if you have any injuries or medical conditions that may be adversely affected. Discontinue exercising should you experience any abnormal response such as muscle, joint or bone pain, chest pain or tightness, or shortness of breath, and seek medical attention immediately.
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