Spring a Great Time to Rethink Exercise Goals

Many people in Michigan make a resolution to improve their physical condition at the start of the year. Yet it’s not until winter leaves and summer approaches-along with the specter of swimsuit season-that they start thinking about exercising in earnest.

Spring is a natural time for people to want to begin exercising, according to Scott Grindel, Sports Medicine and Occupational Health physician with Spectrum Health Reed City Campus. “It’s the season. The weather is getting warmer, days are longer and plants are growing. People just want to be outside and active after a long winter.”

Becoming more active is important. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2004 found that poor diet and lack of exercise were almost as lethal as smoking. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see diet and inactivity overtake smoking as a cause of death,” said Grindel. “The number of smokers continues to slowly drop, but the number of obese people in our country is climbing at an alarming rate.”

While people should start exercising as if their life depended upon it, they can’t expect to overcome years of inactivity in a few weeks, explained Grindel. “There are benefits to be had with an exercise routine that starts slow and gradually builds,” he said. “You’ll improve heart health, increase bone density, feel and sleep better and help prevent a wide range of medical problems.”

Grindel has a number of tips starting an exercise program you can stick with:

  • Find an activity you enjoy. Some people enjoy walking and hiking while others need a faster pace, such as biking or group workouts. Find something you can stick with.
  • Buddy up. Get a friend or family member to join you, or join a class with a friend.
  • Get SMART. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For example, a SMART goal might be, “I will walk with my dog 15 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week after work before dinner.” Keep a record. Having realistic goals helps you stay focused and make progress. Each week you can modify your goals to increase the intensity and/or duration of the activity.
  • Easy does it. Give yourself time to warm up and stretch, then set a pace you can continue for 10 to 15 minutes at first without getting too tired. “If you can’t carry on a conversation while you exercise, you’re probably pushing too hard,” said Grindel. A slow progression helps ensure you reach your goals and enjoy success.
  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to what your body is saying. If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, take a break. If these symptoms reappear with exercise, contact your doctor.
  • Break it up if necessary. You don’t have to do all your exercise at once. Ten minutes of exercise three times a day may fit your schedule better than 30 minutes at once. Stay with it and you’ll see results.
  • Couple exercise with a better diet. Cutting calories and poor food choices while increasing exercise is a proven way toward weight loss and feeling better.
  • Stay the course. Consistency is the key to success. Missing a day or two of activity once in a while is okay, but it’s important to resume your routine as soon as possible. Small things can make a big difference over time.

Grindel adds that it’s important to make your exercise time an important part of each day. “Whether you join a gym, use an exercise video or just go outside and tackle the garden, just do it. Staying active needs to be a priority in everyone’s life.”

Spectrum Health Reed City Campus is a 25-bed acute care hospital located in Reed City, MI that has adopted the Planetree approach to care giving. A model of patient centered care in a healing environment, staff is committed to improving medical care from the patient’s perspective, empowering patients and families through education, information and encouraging healing partnerships with caregivers. Spectrum Health Reed City Campus offers a newly renovated emergency department with private treatment rooms, an expanded medical imaging department, a regional cancer treatment center and an Eden Care award winning 54-bed skilled nursing facility. Spectrum Health Reed City Campus has been recognized for its quality care by the Michigan Quality Improvement Organization and has earned the Governor’s Award of Excellence for Improving Care in the Hospital Setting for 3 consecutive years, the Total Benchmark Solution quality award for 2005 and the 2006 and 2007 VHA Leadership Award for clinical excellence.