While we use the “get fit for summer” line with tongue firmly in cheek, with holiday downtime upon us and the sun out, it’s a cracking time to get outdoors and place more of a focus on your health and fitness. It’s also when you may be setting yourself for those New Year exercise goals – think complete my first triathlon/half marathon/regular yoga classes or walking regularly 3 x week…

Maybe the quickest way to lose your fitness momentum is to be derailed by injury. The best news is that many of the injury types that you’ll experience in the initial phase of restarting, or increasing exercise, are preventable. They dont need to happen.

So as 2017 winds up, we’ve put our thoughts down on how to successfully get fit and active this summer and help you launch into 2018 feeling as good as you’d like (and then be able to keep that rolling).

Graduate your workload

How many times have you heard of someone filling in for a friend’s netball team and jagging a calf muscle in the first quarter? We see it often, and the main reason is that they weren’t conditioned to be able to cope with the muscle effort. Muscles and tissues develop strength and tolerance from “graded exercise exposure”, or gradual increases in workload. So when getting back into exercise or starting a new sport, it makes sense to start gradually both in terms of intensity and duration. If your goal is to run your first 10km in the New Year but you havent run in 5 years, your initial program might involve starting with some slow jog/walk intervals of 1 minute each, initially just for 8-10 minutes, in the early stages of your program. And if it’s something that involves impact (like jogging), going out on alternate days will be better tolerated than trying to jump into it on consecutive days.

Get the right gear

Primarily to feel good (though looking good in those bright yellow runners can be quite motivating too). Making sure you have the correct shoes for walking, running or court sports is important so you have adequate support and cushioning. Chances are if you start the new program in your old shoes purchased some time in the late 1990’s, you aren’t giving yourself the best chance of feeling great as you get back into things. Quality footwear stores like @TheRunningCompany in Adelaide provide personalised fitting and advice. The right gear could also mean making sure your bike is set up well for your size and shape, or that your new tennis racket grip is appropriate.

Don’t ignore old trouble spots

You’ve probably heard us bang on about it before, the biggest risk factor for an injury is having had a previous injury. Getting these assessed and having a sensible rehab/prevention exercise plan in place to address old injuries is key. This is often pretty straight forward and could be as simple as making sure you’ve got adequate strength or flexibility around the previously injured area, or that your new training plan will respect any recommended modifications needed to ensure you continue to cope well.

Enjoy it

For training and exercise to have lasting effects, you’ll need to keep at it. Apart from being shocked into getting fit (Doctor “if you don’t lose weight you’ll… = fear or guilt) the biggest motivator for people will be getting those good feels from exercise (= enjoyment). So find something you enjoy and will be happy to continue on with. If it’s worth doing it will be hard at times, but you should still have a sense of achievement and benefit from what you are doing. Running may never be your thing, while a group fitness class focusing on flexibility, balance and muscle tone could be perfect.

Variety is the spice

Giving our bodies a variety of challenges is a fantastic way to see widespread adaptations to fitness and training. This can also assist with preventing overuse injuries. The variety could be as simple as walking different courses through the neighbourhood, or breaking up the long slow runs, with some shorter intervals. Just remember that when you are first starting out, our tissues will need time to adapt and build tolerance to all the different challenges so keep point 1 (graduate your workload) in mind in the initial stages.

That’s enough from us, – So go do it, get outside, stay hydrated, stay sunsmart, enjoy summer and find that exercise/sport/activity that you’ll LOVE and be able to continue to challenge yourself with.