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Smell that Spring air?  Getting that urge to fire up your exercise again?  Me too!  Yup, it’s about that time when the weather transitions out of the doldrums of winter and sparks the desire to get outside and get active.  As your activity increased, your body will begin to talk to you and give you important information about how it is responding.  So listen to your body, train with your brain, and heed the messages it is sending you to maximize your effort and stay safe.  Pay special attention to these two messages.

Signal 1:  Ouch!

Probably the most educational message your body will send you, “Ouch!” should never be ignored since doing so can lead to chronic or even permanent damage.  Explore “ouch” as soon as it happens.

  • If “ouch” is immediate and during exercise, then STOP, and resume at a much lower intensity to see if comes on again. If so, then stop and find another exercise or quit for the day.  It’s better to stop now and collect some info than push through and make it your last workout for a while.
  • If “ouch” comes on slowly with exercise and subsides when exercise ceases, and is a “burning” sensation within the muscles, then this is normal and indicates your body is out of its comfort zone and working hard. This kind of “ouch” is constructive, but monitor its intensity level – especially if you are just getting back into exercise.
  • If “ouch” shows up in the next day or two after exercise as mild soreness and/or stiffness in the muscles and joints, then be encouraged. Your body is telling you that your activity was challenging and it’s healing nicely.  Compliment your hard work with rest and recovery resources such as light exercise to loosen up, good hydration to replenish body fluids, and quality protein and veggies for joint and muscle repair and improvement.  Nice work!

Signal 2:  Yay!

This signal is the reason we exercise in the first place.  “Yay!” usually shows up at the beginning of a workout as you get going,  but then disappears in the middle during the tough parts when things aren’t so fun but the work is getting done.  Then, “yay” reappears at the end when your work is done, and is attached to the satisfaction of hard work accomplished, and lingers in the form of improved physical condition.  Booyah! Let’s do it again!

So strap on your fitness shoes, opt for those shorter sleeves, and get your body moving this spring, but make sure to train smart and listen to your body signals.  Balance your desire to be active with sensibility and wisdom to stay safe, improve your condition, and keep moving forward with no set-backs.  Enjoy your spring!

My wife and I want our kids to be active. We want them to try many activities to find their greatest interests.  And, there aren’t enough seasons to try every sport or academic group, or we must pick one and make them a specialist.  In our search for a solution to this we found one that works for our family.

My oldest son (6) is now a Tiger Scout which is the entry level rank in the Boy Scouts of America. When exploring the responsibilities and possibilities associated with Scouting, we came across the Academic and Sports Program and have found it to be a great resource for our family.  While this column might sound like an endorsement for the BSA, it is not*.  However, there are many strengths to this specific program.

Scouting not required*

Whether you are a fan of the Boy Scouts of America or not, this resource is right at your fingertips.  No sign-up, commitment, extra meeting to add to the calendar, or fund raiser you must do.  Simply go to the website (listed at the bottom), click on the sport or academics area you are interested in, and get going.

Low time commitment

I love the guidelines for their simplicity and ease of time.  Check out the requirements for the “Video Games” award:

Complete these three requirements:

  1. Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Check your video games to be sure they are right for your age.
  2. With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming. Do your best to follow this schedule.
  3. Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.

Pretty simple, huh?  This was the first one we completed because 1) it caught my son’s eye 2) I wanted to get it off the list ASAP or else I’d never hear the end of it and 3) it provided healthy structure to video gaming in our house.  Win, win, win.

Try many activities

As parents, how do we help our children find the areas and activities they will be passionate about?  Instead of dedicating an entire season to one activity, this program offers the opportunity to dabble in many which could reveal an interest you could then pursue further.  Hey, it could be baseball or astronomy.

There’s an award!

Kids (and parents) love to earn awards.  Completing each area earns you a belt-loop that slides on a youth belt.  They are cheap and available either online or at the Scout Store located just off Fall Creek Road on the Indy’s east side.

A way to engage with your kids

There is no perfect guide to parenting and it’s normal to struggle to find a way to get into your child’s world to be an influence and encouragement.  I find this program helps.  My son picks the area he’s interested in (he loves choices!), we complete it together, sometimes over several weeks time, and we celebrate by participating in that activity.  If it’s an area that’s a flop and there’s no further interest, it’s still a win because you completed a project together.

As parents of VERY physically active kids, this program has been a great parenting resource for us, especially during vacation and stay-cation times.  Know there are resources out there that can help you leverage your time, parent with a purpose, and spend quality time with your family.

http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/CubScouts/CubScouts/UniformsAndAwards/sanda.aspx

Every year I write on this subject because it’s REAL.  I love Indiana, but this time of year is hard on Hoosiers.  It’s cold…VERY cold.  It’s dark and dreary; and when the sun does shine bright, it’s just a tease because it knows we won’t come out from the warm indoors.  We crave a break from it…a way to take the chill off and lift our spirits.  I have some suggestions that help me with the winter blues, and while it’s not the beach, these “remedies” can help your body and mood as we wait for Indiana to make up her mind.

Warm from the inside out

While we all have our own preference on how hot or cold we enjoy being, all bodies function best when the outside temperature is closer to the temperature inside our body.  When it is cold out, our body redirects blood away from our hands, feet and other extremities to preserve energy and keep the vital organs at appropriate temperatures.  This is a great design, but it can leave even healthy joints stiff and achy. Use activity to counter this and get some relief.  As your body moves, your cardiovascular system senses the need to circulate extra blood through your joints and muscles, bringing heat with it.  Also, when muscle fibers move, they create friction, allowing you to heat up from the inside out.

Read a book to reach your goals

It can be difficult to be as active as usual in the winter, but that doesn’t mean you need to let your fitness goals slip.  Stimulate your brain by learning something new this time of year that you can apply now, or when it gets warmer, to help you stay on track.  Whether you’re getting started running or training to run a mini-marathon, I recommend Ready to Run by Dr. Kelly Starrett.  If you’re goal is to clean up your eating and offer better nutrition to your family, I recommend Against All Grain by Danielle Walker or Eat Clean by Tosca Reno.

Try a new activity

Break up your day with a change of pace and atmosphere by trying a new activity.  You don’t need to do anything super-intense, just pick an activity that interests you, and move your body.

  • Cardio class – Spinning, stepping, boxing, kicking, or dancing. Lots of great choices for every person to get moving.
  • Go Climbing – I know a group of ladies who indoor rock climb and they always buzz about it for days afterward! (http://hoosierheights.com/indianapolis/)
  • Yoga – I swear Blooming Life Yoga Studio & School is the warmest place in Zionsville right now. There you will find a warm environment – from the temperature of the room to the smiles on their faces.  You will move and feel better after each class.  (30 S. Elm Street, Zionsville (317) 800-4039)

This winter has been EXCEPTIONAL and doesn’t promise to pass without a fight.   Don’t wait on the weather to determine your mood and health.  Be proactive and take boosting your spirits into your own hands.