Way back in the mid-1990s, the Center for Disease control made the recommendation for all adults to accumulate a minimum of 30 minutes (or more) of moderate-intensity physical activity on most (if not all) the days of the week. A study followed in 2003, unfortunately showing that less than 50 percent of the U.S. population met this recommendation. Many factors are likely to contribute to the decrease in activity for the US population: longer work days, commutes, sedentary jobs, financial constraints, etc. Still, new guidelines are out, and they are not backing off the amount of activity needed for health. Now they even give a minimum breakdown on where each of those minutes of activity should be spent.
What are the Studies Showing?
A study by Dr. Roberts, University of Calgary and the Foothills Medical Centre, discusses how these conditions gave rise to the “weekend warrior.” This is the individual who works hard all week, and is then pushing their body on the weekend to compress all of that activity into their only time-off.1 In this cohort study (meaning they looked at a bunch of previous data from similar patient injuries/cases), they reviewed data from 1995-2009 at their hospital. In studying the traumatic injury rates (meaning those that had to go to the hospital) of patients, these doctors found that over half of these injuries were sustained on the weekends. Another study, this time looking at even home improvement tasks, done by Dr. Psoinos and his team at the University of Massachusetts, had similar findings and called for more injury prevention efforts.2
What Are the Experts Saying?
Dr. Karen Sutton, currently the head team surgeon for United States women’s lacrosse team, physician for Yale University and Albertus Magnus College, and provider of medical coverage for the Women’s Tennis Association, knows a thing or two about injury prevention.
Weekend warriors are most of us who work in or out of the house during the week and try to make up for lost time on the weekends. That lost time can lead to Achilles tendon ruptures, strained hamstrings, herniated discs and even the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament rupture (ACL rupture). I am certainly an advocate for getting your body engaged in exercises, but there are ways to prevent injuries from occurring.
I discuss with my weekend warrior athletes the importance of the THREE C’s: Core strength, Cross-Training and Consistency. The core represents the “trunk of the tree” and helps support your lower extremities— your “branches.” The power for sprinting, throwing, jumping, swimming, etc. builds from your abdominal muscles. Pilates and yoga can be great additions to other workout programs as they engage the strong core muscles.
Secondly, cross training is important to work various muscle groups and keep the body balanced. It is key to note the amount of impact that your body is feeling. Stress fractures of the tibia (lower leg bone) can result from continuous pounding on a hard running surface. It does not always benefit runners from constantly jogging on the pavement, and a little change-up such as a pool workout, yoga, cycling or strength training could decreased your risk of injury. Most likely, in adding a complementary training regime, your fitness level will improve, too.
Finally, consistency is an important factor in a comprehensive training program. Consistency may be once or twice a week for some people or six times a week for others. Whichever your path, it behooves you to develop a pattern for your fitness routine. Our muscles react to the tasks in which they are challenged. Injuries tend to arise after we have been sedentary for a long period and then shock our system with that alumni soccer game or demonstration for our children’s basketball team. Stick with a pattern where you always pack your gym back in the back of your car for work OR have “ME” time by waking up early on a Saturday to do high-intensity interval training while the rest of your family is asleep. Make sure you remind yourself in your calendar and commit to that time.
Start small and build steadily. It is much better to master the fundamental moves first, and then go from there into more complex activities. Follow the THREE C’s: Core strength, Cross-Training and Consistency.
New to training? Great! Worried about looking like a “beginner”? Don’t be! Frustrated about “starting over”? It’s all good! Invest the time upfront in your new routine; take the moves slowly and with light weight. Before you know it, you will be stronger and ready to advance in your routine, ready for a fit 2016.
Here is a routine designed to get you safe, steady, effective results. Enjoy!
The FUN-damental Routine (and it’s anything but basic!)
Start with your palms on the floor shoulder-width apart. Try on the toes, but if your core/lower back are still strengthening it’s totally OK to utilize your knees for a modified push-up. Lower yourself down (with control), and then back up for one.
Work up to a goal of five pull-ups in a row this year! Start little by little with these modified alternatives. Utilize the assisted pull-up machine, or even the Smith machine bar as an inclined pull-up. Grab the handles with both hands, lower yourself down, and then pull yourself up for one.
Triceps Dips 3×10
Feel the strength build in your arms and core with this move! Effective with knees bent, or straight for a little challenge as you get stronger. With hands about shoulder-width apart, on the bench behind you, lower yourself down, and then push through your triceps up for one.
Lunge 3×10, each leg
Stand up straight, hands on hips or holding a bar for balance. Lower yourself down into the lunge position and then up. Repeat 10 moves on each leg for one set.
Utilizing just your bodyweight or adding weight with a bar or dumbbells, this is a great move to engage your whole body. Check out Jessie’s article and how-to video!
Thank you to Dr. Karen Sutton for her expertise and advice. Follow her latest advice and lifestyle blog on her website at www.KarenSutton.com. See how this successful orthopedic surgeon does it all: career, hobbies, fitness, self-care and has FOUR KIDS!
Thank you to Beatrice Sanford for demonstrating these fundamental moves. Look for her new eBook coming soon! F3: Unlocking the Woman Within
Thank you to Planet Fitness for always being a “Judgment Free Zone”! www.planetfitness.com Newbies welcome.
Thank you to Via Nov for your photography excellence.
Thank you to BodyRio for providing the look for this article. Visit http://shop.bodyrio.com to get your unique look too!
1. Roberts DJ, Ouellet JF, McBeth PB, Kirkpatrick AW, Dixon E, Ball CG. The “weekend warrior”: fact or fiction for major trauma? Can J Surg. 2014 Jun;57(3):E62-8. PMID: 24869618
2. Psoinos CM, Emhoff TA, et al. The dangers of being a “weekend warrior”: A new call for injury prevention efforts. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012 Aug: 73(2): 469-473. PMCID: PMC3586599