Now that winter is winding down, you may be itching to get back outside and to get moving. Whether you jog a few miles, tee up for a round of golf or shoot hoops with your kids in the backyard, it’s important to prepare your body for activity, especially if the frigid temps have kept you glued to the couch all season. Otherwise, you run the risk of overdoing it and even ordinary activities can take a toll. I see people all the time who garden through the first nice weekend of spring and then suffer from severe muscle soreness or injury.

The “no pain, no gain” approach to fitness doesn’t work.

Start small. If you’ve been sedentary for weeks, check in with your doctor before ramping up your activity. Once you get the all-clear, start with an easy workout. The slow, gentle movements will help prep your body for more intense activities. Start with 10 minutes every day or every other day for a week. Then increase to 15 minutes the following week. Add five minutes to your workout each week until you’re working out for 30 to 45 minutes at a stretch. You can even break up sessions throughout the day, and don’t forget to stretch before and after your workouts.

Go slow. Even though sunny days may be calling your name, make sure to start slow. Keep in mind that running on the ground is different — and usually more taxing — than running on a treadmill. The best approach may be to vary the intensity throughout your workout. Sprint for 1 minute, jog for 10 and then walk for 5. Repeat the process until you feel your workout is complete. This is called high intensity interval training (HIIT) and this type of training offers more gains than maintaining a steady pace.

Stretch it out. No matter what your sport or activity, incorporating stretching into your routine can help you stay at the top of your game.

Keep your expectations in check. The longer your break from activity, the more time you’ll need to get back to on track. So, if you worked out three to four times per week prior to your fitness vacation, it will take about four to eight weeks for you to get back up to speed. Remember, too, that you didn’t become inactive overnight, so you won’t become fit overnight. Patience is key.

And remember, if you do overdo it and strain or injure yourself, follow the RICE rule to lessen the damage ~ Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate!

For more about Jayne & Refresh Active Aging, or to sign up for 7 free days with the Sweat Squad – head to her website: