Spring Clean Your Fitness Routine
By Felicia Vance
You spruce up your house when the seasons change, so why not do the same with your workout? With the change in season comes the opportunity to change the way we think about getting and staying active. From your gear to your attitude, here’s what to toss—and the best way to replace it.
Book a Physical
Believe it or not, only about 20 percent of Americans get an annual check-up. Be one of them! While you might look and feel just fine (or really hate needles), it’s important to keep tabs on things like blood pressure, cholesterol and vitamin deficiencies before designing your workout program.
Break up your routine with outdoor exercises like tennis or golf, or team up with friends for an afternoon of ultimate Frisbee. Even kickball will get your heart going—and you don’t have to be athletically gifted to play!
Ditch Old Walking or Running Shoes
Invest in a new pair of kicks, because worn-out soles are a quick path to injury. Write the purchase date on the tongue or side of your shoes and let your weekly mileage be your guide. If you walk or run 10 miles per week, replace your shoes every 12 months; 15 miles, every 8 months; 20 miles, every 6 months; 30 miles, every 4 months.
Update Your Workout Wardrobe
Still sweating it out in cotton T-shirts? Throw away worn-out workout duds and replace them with shorts, tanks and tees in breathable, wick fabrics. While you’re at it, update your sports bras, too (a typical bra has a lifespan of about six months, although hand-washing can make them last longer).
Pump Up Your Playlist
Still listening to the same tracks from December? Do some iPod “spring cleaning” by downloading a fresh workout playlist to get you going.
Toss Your Free Pedometer
Spend $20 to $25 for a better-quality one. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine tested nearly 1,000 low-end pedometers and found almost three-quarters of them were inaccurate—with most of them overestimating step counts.
Get Rid of Light Weights
Use heavier weights that challenge you. Your body has an amazing ability to adapt quickly, so if you don’t regularly increase the weight you’re lifting, you’ll eventually plateau. Lift as much as you can, as long as it isn’t painful and you feel in control throughout the move.
Drink Only When Thirsty
Drink 4 to 6 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise. Sweating away even a tiny portion of your body weight can doom your workout by making your heart beat faster and causing you to feel weak and tired.
Clean Out Your Pantry
Still have that tin of popcorn from the holidays or a box of chocolates from Valentine’s Day? Get rid of them. And while you’re at it, throw away other foods low in nutritional value, like chips, pretzels, sugary cereals, white bread and, yes, even those 100 calorie snack packs (a cookies still a cookie, even if you squash it flat and drop five in a bag).