A New Year’s resolution to increase exercise can go a long way for your bones, joints, and many other aspects of your health. Starting a plan by setting small achievable goals every six-to-eight weeks is a great way to track your progress throughout the year. You should never increase your mileage or minutes spent exercising more than 10 percent per week.
Authors: Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Team Physician for Stonehill College Athletics, and Emily Brook, a research assistant in the Women’s Sports Medicine Program.
With a new year right around the corner, many of us are thinking about a New Year’s resolution. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, exercise more and be healthy! Bones and joints appreciate weight loss, because for every pound you lose, pressure is taken off of your hip, knee, and ankle joints. However, losing weight and transitioning to a healthy lifestyle takes time, and many people who do too much, too soon, wind up with an overuse injury in the first 8-12 weeks of the year.
If you are thinking about weight loss or increasing your exercise as a New Year’s resolution, follow these simple tips to start your year off right and be on your way to an injury-free healthier lifestyle.
The 10 percent rule
For those who are starting a new exercise program (i.e. running or exercise classes) it is important to follow the 10 percent rule. You should never increase your mileage or minutes spent exercising more than 10 percent per week. The impact of running or other weight bearing activity can be tough on muscles and bones that aren’t used to exercise. Nagging muscular injuries from overuse can build up quickly, and increased running with minimal rest can lead to bone stress reactions or fractures. Set reasonable goals and expectations and create a realistic workout plan that you can stick with.
Fuel the fight
Increasing exercise is just one component of a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition is key to maximize the results of any exercise program. It is important to remember that your body needs fuel for exercise. A balance of nutrients like calcium and vitamin D are essential for strong bones and joints. If you are unsure about modifying your diet for an exercise program, it is never a bad idea to consult a nutritionist and create a plan for healthy weight loss and exercise.
Your body knows best
Muscle soreness is expected after a tough workout or new exercises. However, your body knows when it is under too much stress and lingering soreness may be a sign to take a step back. Taking a day or two to rest doesn’t have to mean the end of your exercise program. There will always be bumps in the road of any training program, but knowing when to take a step back is important for the long run.
A New Year’s resolution to lose weight or increase exercise can go a long way for your bones, joints, and many other aspects of your health. It is important to understand that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. Starting a plan by setting small achievable goals every six-to-eight weeks is a great way to track your progress throughout the year. If you feel any significant bone or joint pain that limits you, be sure to consult a physician to make sure you are still on the right track. Here’s to a healthy and injury-free you in the New Year!
- Understanding and Preventing Overuse Injuries
- Running Tips for Cold and Snowy Weather
- Department of Nutrition at BWH
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